Delivering Hope

Because no one is just another brick in the wall.


Why Should We have Community Volunteers in Prisons?


Why should upstanding citizens volunteer in jails, prisons, and post-prison reentry?  Isn't volunteering in jails just "helping" criminals who have been sent to jail to be punished?

Actually, what we don't need to hear about is failure. "Prison and reentry nonprofits" are 100% about facilitating person-to-person success during and after prison.  It's about changing lives for the better - for personal transformation and future success in the community.  About positive connections for children with an incarcerated parent (see Aid to Inmate Mothers in Alabama.  About people in prison finding new "nonviolent communication skills" (see"Freedom Project" in Seattle).  About self-improvement programs (see the Pennsylvania Prison Society ).  About finding second chances through the performing arts (see Prison Performing Arts in Missouri). Community programs - and success stories - exist in every state.

From the outskirts of hope to the insides of prisons: volunteers change lives.

Incarceration - and everything it represents - affects you, your community, your pocketbook, families, and victims of crime!  Volunteering in prison and reentry programs improves the lives of individual while improving community safety.

People in prison often face barriers that get in the way of succeeding after getting released.  These are both personal barriers and, subsequently, a detraction from public safety.

  • Approximately 40% of people in state and federal prisons haven't completed high school (or its equivalent), compared to just under 20% for the general population.
  • Studies show that positive social and family connections reduce recidivism, but such connections are often lacking among people who are incarcerated.  In fact, incarceration is literally a wall blocking access to mainstream social connections.
  • People in jail often need to develop improved "life skills."
  • Accessing gainful employment and stable housing is often difficult after incarceration (in fact, some jobs and housing programs are restricted for people with a criminal record).  Not being able to get a job or a place to live makes it hard to "play by the rules."
  • Mental heallth challlenges, alcoholism, and addiction rates are higher among incarcerated populations.

Community groups deliver programs and services that support overcoming these barriers. 


Also consider: 

·        The U.S. has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prison population. Many people in U.S. jails and prisons are serving sentences for nonviolent offenses. Your tax dollars pay for this high rate of incarceration.

Community groups who deliver programs in jails and prisons reduce recidivism (the rate at which people return to prison after getting released).

·        95% of people in jail get released.  It is in your best interest - and the interest of your community - to provide tools to incarcerated people so they can live more successfully when they get released. necessary for people to live more successfully. 

It's easy to think, "Going to jail will teach someone that they shouldn't commit a crime again."  That's easy to say.  Just sitting in jail, however, doesn't provide the life skills necessary for change.  That's why we need both paid and community-based programming in jails.

Community groups that deliver programs in jails and prisons provide life skills training necessary for people to behave differently when they get released. 

·        Incarceration affects families. 2.2% of U.S. children have one or both parents in jail.

NC4RSO member organizations deliver life skills training to Mom and Dad while they are incarcerated.  This results in Mom and Dad having better parenting skills when they get released.

·       People go to jail for victimizing someone.  Crime disrupts the lives of victims, victim's families, and communities.

We also don't want more victims when people who are currently in jail get released.  Community programs in jails and prisons demonstrate pathways for better behavior AND provide the skills necessary for success after incarceration.  Therefore, community programs in jails and prisons contribute to community wellness. 


·        Communities are responsible for creating local solutions to local problems. Civic engagement - through volunteerism - helps make the system work and improves community well-being.


You can support healthier communities by volunteering in jails, prisons, and post-incarceration reentry.  Click here to learn more about volunteering. You can also support healthier communities with your tax-deductible donations that support community engagement. 

 Ready to volunteer?  Contact us for more information .


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