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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Volunteering in Ohio Prisons

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) is committed to recruiting dedicated, talented and resourceful volunteers and reentry mentors to provide services to offenders, formerly incarcerated persons and communities assisting in rehabilitation and reentry efforts.  The Department offers educational and life experiences, training, staff support, networking opportunities, a volunteer hotline number and volunteer email to obtain information about volunteering, and technical assistance for volunteers and reentry mentors. 

Become a Volunteer Today

If you are interested in information about becoming a volunteer, please contact the DRC Volunteer Hotline at: (877) 728-1534 or email us at: DRC.Volunteer@odrc.State.oh.us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Become A Volunteer?
Formerly incarcerated and civic minded citizens can volunteer in central office, prisons, parole offices, with community partners or with a reentry initiative. Why?:
 
  1. Community – Make a Difference! Over 50% of the offenders are released to Ohio’s 88 counties each year. Volunteers can assist in preparing incarcerated individuals to return to the community and become productive citizens.
  2. Personal Satisfaction – Become a positive influence in the life of another and experience the reward of giving back!
  3. Public Awareness - Serve as an ambassador or a liaison between DRC, prisons, parole regions and the community by sharing positive volunteer experiences with the public.
  4. Training and Experience - Gain direct training and experience working with a diverse offender population. Reference letters, certificates, and/or other forms of recognition can be provided to document experience, service, training, and duties.
 

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Who is an approved volunteer?
All persons interested in volunteering must complete an application, submit to a background investigation and disclose all associates, friends, and relatives who are in prison or under DRC supervision. All approved applicants must satisfactory complete required training and orientation and be aware of the following:

  1. Voluntarily serve by one’s own free will without pay or other compensation.
  2. Provide encouragement and support for others and be competent in the desired area of service.
  3. Comply with all rules and laws governing behavior, dress and contraband.
  4. DRC has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use or conveyance.

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What kind of qualifications do I need?
  1. Must be 18 years of age or older and possess a valid government issued identification card.
  2. Must not be under DRC supervision.
  3. Good reputation, good character and a desire to serve humanity.
  4. Successful formerly incarcerated persons are strongly encouraged to volunteer.
  5. Volunteers are considered without regards to race, ethnicity, social, economic and education level or religious affiliation.

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In what areas can I volunteer?
  1. Volunteers can assist in providing counseling, housing, job placement training, money management training, and other personal development opportunities.
  2. Volunteers can participate in faith-based programming and substance abuse programming for offenders and ex-offenders.
  3. Volunteers can assist with Benefit Bank services to qualifying persons for government benefits, tax return assistance, voter registration, etc.
  4. Volunteers can participate in providing arts and crafts classes and other recreational activities.
  5. Volunteers can participate in Victim-Awareness programming opportunities through the Office of Victim Services.
  6. Volunteers can provide Re-entry Evidence Programming to assist in reducing recidivism.

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Do I have to work in a prison or parole office?
No! – There are many places for a person to volunteer besides the prison.

  1. Parole office - assisting in providing services and information to offenders under supervision.
  2. Central Office - working on committees, victim issues, reentry projects and focus groups.
  3. Work on educational projects or as a college intern to further understanding of the criminal justice systems.
  4. Volunteer with DRC service providers or community partners who house offenders or ex-offenders in the community.
  5. Find a prison or adult parole authority office

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What are some personal rewards?
There are many positive and personal rewards obtained from volunteering.

  1. Feel a sense of purpose.
  2. New experiences and opportunities.
  3. Helping someone who needs help.
  4. Opportunity to practice or sharpen skills, and to obtain noteworthy experience.

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What are some good role model techniques?
  1. Give constructive and positive feedback.
  2. Be fair, firm, consistent, honest and objective in approving and disapproving certain behavior.
  3. Be Proactive in promoting thoughts and solutions to crime free living.
  4. Set the example and be the model by being a positive influence on their lives.

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Are there tips for success?
  1. Shadow with an experienced volunteer.
  2. Maintain a copy of the Volunteer Feedback form to provide periodic feedback about your experiences and progress.
  3. Awareness of the method or procedure to resolve formal and informal concerns.
  4. Be dependable by showing up on time for the days of commitment.
  5. Maintain confidentiality.
  6. Don't be afraid to ask questions of employees.

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Can I be Terminated?
Volunteer services can be terminated. If the person is terminated at one office, then the termination is in effect for the entire Department until the matter is resolved or reversed. Reasons for termination can include:

  1. Failure to comply with DRC rules or policies;
  2. Breach of confidentiality;
  3. Physical or emotional illness or instability;
  4. Inability to cooperate with staff;
  5. Erratic, unreliable attendance;
  6. Any other activity which threatens the orderly operation or safety of people or property.

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Links for Capacity Building
  1. www.reentrycoalition.ohio.gov 
  2. The Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives serves as a central point of contact for community groups, nonprofits, and government agencies interested in forming public-private partnerships to meet needs, deliver services, and solve community problems.
  3. DRC volunteer application, cites declarations, information, areas of interest and cluster trainings.
  4. The Ohio Benefit Banks program.
  5. Grant, finance and community resource information about housing.
  6. M.U.S.C.L.E. is a centralized guide for Department staff, offenders, families, and community partners that provides assistance in locating community resources and information to foster strong, safe communities.

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