In more than two decades with Volunteers in Parole,
Mary Van Zomeren watched the mentoring
program for juvenile offenders grow to involve more than 700 California attorneys.
Matched with parolees from the California Youth Authority and the
Department of Corrections, the volunteer lawyers help with a variety of issues, ranging
from literacy to jobs to family problems.
Inspired by a 1969 speech by the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
urging attorneys to help end the revolving door to U.S. prisons, the program originally
was underwritten by CYA and the State Bar. It became an independent non-profit in 1993,
funded by contracts with the CYA and Department of Corrections as well as private
Van Zomeren retired last month after 23 years, taking some
much-needed time to spend with her husband and two young children.
Its still wonderful that friendships are what can push a
person forward and make them crime-free, said Van Zomeren. Weve done