Social Engagement: High
What’s What: In the United States, more than two million people are behind bars. If you’re interested in efforts to rehabilitate lives, consider lending your talents and experience as a correctional facility volunteer.
Amava Take: Correctional facilities are complex, but they are filled with human beings hoping to better themselves. If you’ve got something to give, you can be a part of someone’s transformational journey. You might find yourself learning and growing along the way. Volunteers teach classes, from yoga to economics, run book clubs and support groups or just visit with inmates who seek connection.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these positions?
Responsible, mature individuals who are humble, able and want to make a difference.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Don’t be afraid. Volunteers are kept safe and are well-respected.
What’s a typical daily schedule like?
Generally, you commit to a particular time slot, such as a class or a session.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job/experience?
Making a connection with an inmate is extremely powerful.
How would you describe the hard parts?
Some of the harshness and regimentation of incarceration is jarring and sad.
What surprised you the most about the experience?
There is much more laughter and hope than I expected.
Special Requirements: Organizations and specific facilities have their own requirements. Here’s an overview of options and insights about volunteering in a prison.
Finding a Position: There are options, like this California prison education project, this nationwide organization that trains prison yoga teachers and a national organization focused on helping former inmates with reentry into society. Nonprofits that specialize in teaching entrepreneurship to current and former inmates rely on the help of knowledgeable volunteers. You can also google correctional facilities near you for local volunteer programs including working with juveniles, women and more.