SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Local crime stories often share a common theme: perpetrators as repeat offenders. Antwaun Powell, who on Tuesday was listed as in custody at the Minnehaha County Jail, pleaded guilty in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to driving under the influence. He was cited for DUI on Saturday.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and police chief Jon Thum each spoke about mentorship on Tuesday. KELOLAND News asked about repeat offenders, and TenHaken brought up someone who had done time at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, where it isn’t unusual for people to have more than one stay.
“I’m not going to use his real name but I’ll call him ‘John,'” TenHaken said. “John has been incarcerated a few times up there. As he was close to getting out, someone in the community reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m mentoring John before he gets out of prison. He’s a great welder, he’s learned a great craft behind the walls and do you know any place that would need a welder.'”
In some cases, that mentoring can lead to employment.
“I connected his mentor with a place,” TenHaken said. “They hired him, so John is now employed at this place, has been employed now for several months. But that connection all happened because a mentor helped John as he was coming out of prison so that John doesn’t go back to what got him there.”
Thum says the relationship between a mentor and mentee can set a foundation.
“Young people who are more connected to their community have stake or ownership,” Thum said. “Sometimes through mentoring that can be a strong way to build that bond.”
It’s a bond that can pay dividends down the road.
“How are we equipping people with skills, relationship that they can make the right choice and not fall into the trap of kind of recidivism and repeat offenders,” Thum said.
TenHaken says mentoring isn’t only to benefit kids; he says it’s also for immigrant families as well as inmates.