- Providing special instruction in a particular area such as tutoring and conducting classes.
- Assisting staff in daily office activities to free them for more direct work with offenders.
- Organizing or officiating games during recreation and sports-related activities.
- Providing assistance to facility's library by collecting books.
- Serving as resource to advise offenders on various topics such as developing a budget or employment preparation.
- Assisting with religious-related activities such as worship services or scripture study.
- Participating with an organized group already active at facility such as Yokefellow Prison Ministry, Alcoholics Anonymous or Prison Fellowship.
- Providing or coordinating special entertainment events such as singing groups and plays.
- Assisting in locating suitable residence and/or employment plans for an offender before release.
- Providing transportation to employment or for family to visit facility.
- Serving as a role model by being a sponsor for an eligible offender and escorting them to approved activities in the community.
- Serving as member of facility's Community Resource Council.
Who May Volunteer?
A person who is at least 21 years old who has encountered some of life's problems and has been able to solve them may provide support and encouragement for an offender. Volunteers should view themselves honestly. Regardless of age, they should be able to live with frustrations, to cope with life's problems realistically and to have the energy to devote to listening to others.
The amount of education a volunteer has is not a measure for success. Good volunteers are not measured by their formal education. Stability, willingness and ability to be of help are of greater importance. Volunteers dealing with offenders should be representative of all social, economic, and educational levels to totally meet the needs of the large offender population.
The ex-offender who has successfully adjusted to living a crime-free life may well have a vast source of personal experience and strength which will help an offender. Ex-offenders may be considered volunteers subject to policy and procedures governing the Community Volunteer Program.
Women play a significant role in corrections. They work in almost every type of volunteer service. However, women may not serve as community leave sponsors for male offenders, nor may men be community leave sponsors for female offenders.
There are many enthusiastic retired people whose experience, expertise and accomplishments make them ideally suited for work in corrections and a valuable asset to the prison system's Community Volunteer Program.
If you are interested in serving as a volunteer, please contact your local prison or call the Office of Citizen Participation at 919-838-3613.
Why Volunteers are Needed
There are several reasons why civic-minded citizens may wish to offer their services as volunteers in a correctional facility:
Through active citizen participation, offenders may be reintegrated into the community to become law-abiding members of society. It costs more to keep a person in prison than to place them on probation, for the court to order restitution or community service, or place them under electronic surveillance.
The return of an offender to the community as a safe and law-abiding citizen can be fostered and promoted by individual citizens through the Community Volunteer Program. Feelings of bitterness may be reduced by offering a hand of friendship, understanding and acceptance.
A feeling of responsibility toward one's community could lead concerned citizens to promote and assist in the rehabilitation of an offender.
Volunteers give more than just time--volunteers give of themselves to help guide an offender toward stronger family ties and toward a clearer understanding of the responsibilities of a law-abiding citizen.
A chance to expand interpersonal relationships
The volunteer has the opportunity to meet and work with the prisons staff and offenders. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about prison operations, help ease workloads of staff members and, at the same time, offer a hand of friendship to an offender.
Training and Experience
Documented volunteer service can be used as partial fulfillment of training and experience requirements for state employment. Staff members may be requested to provide a letter to detail a volunteer's service at their facility.
A volunteer can serve as a liaison between the correctional facility and the community by opening channels of communication, and creating positive interaction between them.