FOCUS Reentry is a mentoring program whose mission is to reduce recidivism and enhance community safety. As the only formal program available to offenders leaving the Boulder County Jail FOCUS mentors serve as a bridge in the offenders’ transition back into society, helping them to stabilize, rebuild their lives and eventually achieve self-sufficiency. In fact, a third party evaluation showed FOCUS achieving an astonishing 17% recidivism rate, in contrast to the State of Colorado’s 49% (according to The Sentencing Project, 2008).
We have structured our program on researched best-practices for reducing recidivism: addressing cognitive-behavioral changes, enhancing motivation, using positive reinforcement, and encouraging ongoing support in natural communities. Further, activities that mentors and mentees engage in and the modeling mentors provide are based on the growing consensus among professionals that desistance from crime is the result of positive social reintegration within the family, workplace and community. The methods to work with these factors are integrated into the one-on-one mentoring relationship and support activities whose goal is to normalize the offender’s relationship with the extended community.Ultimately, the philosophy behind the work of FOCUS is that there are no “throw-away” people. This is our most fundamental and indispensable commitment as we observe our clients rebuilding their lives to become contributing members of society. We understand and accept that part of our job is to educate the community that this change is possible; that given the right interventions, ex-offenders can rebuild their lives. Eventually, we hope that, through education and civic engagement, the attitudes and beliefs of the community at large will transition to embrace this same philosophy and ensure that no marginalized populations are deemed “disposable” and thus lost forever in the harsh and unforgiving criminal justice system.