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How Do I...?

For Volunteers<< Back

  • How do I become a volunteer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice?
  • If you are interested in becoming an approved volunteer within TDCJ, you are encouraged to complete a TDCJ Volunteer Application and attend a required volunteer training session at an on-site training location. You are required to contact the facility to have your name placed on the training roster before attending the training session. Completion of training is not a guarantee of approval; all applications include a criminal background check and are reviewed for eligibility according to the following criteria:
    • Must be 18 years or older,
    • Must not have any pending criminal charges,
    • Must have been released from an adult correctional facility for at least 18 months (except for the Partners program),
    • If you are on any type of adult supervision, you will be required to provide a letter from your supervising officer stating they are aware you are wishing to become a volunteer for the TDCJ.
    • Must be 18-months from the disposition date of any criminal charge (excluding traffic tickets).

  • How will I be notified if I am approved?
  • Each volunteer applicant will receive email or mail notification of their approval or denial of services.

  • How long is the application process?
  • For an applicant with a clear criminal history, the process typically takes two to four weeks. If there is a criminal history the applicant may be required to provide additional information which will require additional processing time. Additional information may include support letters, dispositions for crimes, etc.

  • Can an ex-offender volunteer?
  • Yes, generally ex-offenders may serve as a volunteer provided they have a clear criminal background for the previous 18 months and have demonstrated successful reentry into the community. The Partners Program allows for ex-offenders to serve as a substance abuse volunteer six months after their release. The ex-offender must be sponsored by an approved volunteer and must have a year of sobriety to be eligible for the Partners Program. Ex-offenders may also participate in the volunteer program as a special volunteer one year after their release.

  • Can a TDCJ employee (or retiree) become a volunteer?
  • Yes, applicants with a TDCJ employment history will undergo a review by the TDCJ Human Resources Division. The applicant’s employment history will be considered in approving the volunteer applicant. Employees will not be eligible to serve on a facility where they are currently assigned unless the facility administrator approves the employee volunteer’s assignment.

  • Can I attend a training class at a unit different from the one I will be volunteering at?
  • Yes.

  • How long is the training session?
  • TDCJ Volunteer Training can be scheduled up to 4 hours.

  • How often am I required to retrain?
  • Volunteers are required to retrain every two years. Volunteers may retrain on-line every other training session thru online Volunteer Training.

    Every other retraining must be at an on-site location. Volunteers may access the TDCJ Volunteer Training schedule online for a list of available on-site training locations, times, and dates by clicking one of the following links:

  • Can I bring a friend with me to the volunteer training/orientation session?
  • No, only individuals that are participating in the training session should attend. Children or pets will not be permitted in the training session.

  • Can my church/ministry group donate books or materials to the units?
  • Yes, contact the unit chaplain or the Facility Volunteer Administrator for guidance on how to make a donation.

  • What if someone I know is currently incarcerated within the TDCJ?
  • Volunteers will not be placed at a facility where a relative, friend, victim, or enemy is assigned. Volunteer applicants are required to acknowledge on their application if a relative, friend, victim, or enemy is incarcerated. In the event a relative, friend, victim, or enemy becomes incarcerated after the applicant becomes an approved volunteer, or if a volunteer discovers a friend, relative, victim, or enemy is assigned to a facility on which they serve, the volunteer is responsible for reporting the information immediately to the Volunteer Services Department by calling 936-437-3026. The volunteer may be reassigned to another facility.

  • How many units can I visit?
  • Approved volunteers can serve/visit on multiple units based on the unit’s needs and space availability.

  • After becoming an approved volunteer, will I be able to write letters to offenders?
  • Yes, volunteers (excluding employee and Victim Services volunteers) may correspond with an offender(s). Please note that volunteers must identify themselves on the envelope and letter that they are a volunteer. Volunteers shall only use a postal box address or the address of the organization, program, or church they represent as the return address. Correspondence should be encouraging to the offenders in an effort to help them in their rehabilitation. Correspondence shall not include any references that are sexual in nature; refer to criminal behavior or gang-related information; refer to or include contraband; refer to actions that are inappropriate such as soliciting money, or contain records or documents held by the TDCJ (those not listed in the TDCJ Public Information Act Manual). Volunteers shall not reference or include personal information when corresponding with offenders (e.g., personal photographs, personal relationships, personal finances, etc.) or provide legal and/or financial advice.

  • Once I receive my approval notice from TDCJ Volunteer Services how do I begin volunteering?
  • Contact the chaplain or volunteer coordinator of the facility on which you would like to serve. Placement of volunteers is based on the needs of the facility, needs of the offender population, space availability, existing program schedules, and the proposed volunteer activity. See the Unit Directory for a list of units and contact information.