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Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center seeks mentors for youth offenders

The Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center is seeking male mentors for the center’s residents.
by Carla Hinton Published: May 12, 2014

On a sprawling campus in this Pottawatomie County city, young men eat, sleep and attend school.

What sets this place apart from a boarding school or a camp is the fence that surrounds it — and the fact that the youths must stay there.

The residents at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center are confined to this facility because of the crimes they committed.

However, as juveniles, once they complete the requirements of their stay, they will be released to go back to the neighborhoods and communities they came from.

Jerry Fry, the center’s director, said he and his staff are working to help the young men return to society better than they were before — and society can play a part in aiding these youths as well.

Shannon Hazen, the center’s volunteer coordinator, said these young people are in dire need of male role models to help guide them on the right, productive path. She said the center is seeking men to participate in a mentoring program that hopes to pair the center’s residents with someone from the community who cares about them and wants to see them succeed.

Hazen said she’s trying to make sure these young men are not forgotten.

Youths from across the state are housed at the center, but the majority are from Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, she said.

“Because we’re in Tecumseh, they’re just sort of out of sight, out of mind,” she said. “We might be in Tecumseh, but we have people from your neighborhood who are here and who need you.”

Meeting the need

The youths attend school at the center complex and have a program they must adhere to, with various levels that help staff monitor their progress, Hazen said.

For example, youths in the center’s Honors Unit have a comfortable recreation room-like facility to use, and many of them are allowed to go on trips to places such as Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant’s restaurant in Bricktown, a contemporary Christian music concert and several metro-area churches for Sunday services. Also, she said the youths have performed 11 community service projects in the past six months.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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Mentors needed

For more information about the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center’s Mentors Program, call Shannon Hazen at 598-4134.

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