A November memo revealed that the federal court system aims to institute a mentorship program that will provide a “psychologically safe space” for mentees who identify as any “minoritized group,” Fox News Digital reported.
Staff within the court system’s Probation and Pretrial Services System who identify as a minority will be eligible to participate in a two-year Assistance Inclusion Diversity Equity Mentorship program.
On behalf of the courts, the PPSS office investigates and supervises offenders charged with or convicted of federal crimes.
According to the memo released by the national PPSS office, the peer mentorship program will benefit recruitment and retention efforts, counteract isolation, and encourage a diverse workforce.
The program pointed to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery as fuel for outrage and divisiveness in the nation.
“We are traumatized by unlawful police acts; we experience racism fueled by fear tactics; and systemic barriers continue to espouse false stereotypes about us,” the program read.
“Minoritized staff can experience higher levels of isolation and disconnect from colleagues, often feeling pressured to adjust their speech, appearance, and behavior to gain credibility,” it stated. “Resources to overcome these barriers for minoritized staff, or ‘the only’ staff member of a particular group in district, can be necessary to identify and retain diverse and talented individuals.”
The program does not define “minoritized staff” but notes that mentees must value diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Categories are intentionally left undefined to provide space for staff who self-identify within any minoritized group in their district,” the memo stated. “This program is not limited to serving traditional demographics.”
Initial training for mentors includes modules on “identity, active listening, emotional intelligence, empathy and mentoring across differences.” To create a “psychologically safe space for mentees,” mentors will continue training every quarter on topics including “microaggressions, bias awareness, cultural competency and stereotyping.”
A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts told Fox News Digital that two of the 13 circuits in the nation — the sixth and seventh — have already agreed to implement the program. Those two circuits oversee Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
The spokesperson clarified who would qualify to join the mentorship program as a mentee.
“The employees may fall into any number of categories defined very broadly — race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or more broadly, a single father, the sole female on a management team or a young staff member, for example,” the spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “The idea is to provide mentors that the employees relate to as they navigate the early phases of their careers or transition to new roles or responsibilities.”
Legal experts told the news outlet that the program might violate civil rights laws.
GianCarlo Canaparo, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former federal law clerk, told Fox News Digital, “It parts them into arbitrary classification. It assumes mentors will have beneficiary advice for employees solely based on the shared identity of their group.”
Former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York Andrew McCarthy agreed with Canaparo’s sentiment and noted that the program is “counter-constitutional and runs afoul of the civil rights laws.”