The Volunteer Program is a comprehensive, proactive program that increases the community’s capacity to assist in successful inmate reentry by engaging community stakeholders, partners and inmate families. Volunteers who offer their time, talents, and professional expertise are crucial to the Department's ability to achieve its mission (DOC Policy 530.100).
About the Program
The Department of Corrections (DOC) actively recruits from and engages with educational, cultural, religious, and various socioeconomic groups in the community in pursuing volunteers (DOC Policy 530.100). There are currently over 3,600 volunteers who play an important role to the Department as they provide invaluable services to both inmates and staff.
Per RCW 72.09.060, the secretary shall have at least one person on his or her staff who shall have the responsibility for developing a program which encourages the use of volunteers, for citizen advisory groups, and for similar public involvement programs in corrections.
Each and every volunteer brings unique talents, skills, knowledge, and abilities gained through training and individual life experiences. The Volunteer Program provides an array of volunteer opportunities based on agency needs that are matched to the volunteer's interests and skills, and are located throughout Washington state.
For incarcerated individuals, volunteers influence lifestyle changes and provide a vital link to the community, and for individuals on community supervision, volunteers provide support and assistance by developing resources that enable those individuals to become connected, or stay connected, to the community. Volunteering also provides the opportunity for personal satisfaction and growth, and the state will benefit from every volunteer's decision to be of assistance to others.
Opportunities for volunteers to collaborate with the Department of Corrections (DOC) abound, whether providing educational tutoring, social services support, religious programming, or reciprocal community stakeholder involvement on boards, steering committees and/or advocacy councils. Many opportunities are yet to be defined and developed, and will be accomplished only by recognizing the DOC and the community's mutual interests.
Examples of volunteer service opportunities that exist at the DOC include:
Service in Prisons:
Service in the Community:
The Department also actively seeks community collaborations such as grant projects, staff and volunteer memberships on boards and councils, serving as proactive partners with law enforcement agencies, involvement with inmate change programs, advising on management teams, and helping with transitional programs.
Per RCW 51.12.035, a "volunteer" is a person who performs duties for the state by their own free choice, receives no wages, and is registered and accepted as a volunteer by the state for the purpose of engaging in a volunteer service. At the Department of Corrections (DOC), all volunteer services provided must be in accordance with Department policies and guidelines.
Per DOC Policy 530.100, prospective Department of Corrections volunteers must meet and maintain the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years.
- Provide valid, government-issued photo identification.
- Not under the supervision of any local, county, state, or federal corrections agency, or under felony indictment.
- Not have been released from a state, local, or out-of-state corrections agency or supervision within the past 12 months.
- Meet the screening requirements in DOC Policy 490.800 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prevention & Reporting.
- Willing to provide a needed service without pay.
- If providing professional services, appropriately certified or licensed with proof of credentials to perform the services. (e.g., a valid driver's license is required if duties include driving while on state business, and volunteers must have permission to use state vehicles.)
- Not an immediate family member of an individual who is incarcerated at the location where they are volunteering.
- Does not have a current or prior relationship with an incarcerated individual or the family of the individual who is incarcerated at the location where they are volunteering.
- If volunteering 80 hours or more per month, obtain baseline symptom screening and tuberculosis (TB) testing at their own expense before beginning services. TB testing may consist of the Tuberculin Skin Test or appropriate blood test.
Additionally, prospective volunteers must submit to a thorough background check, and volunteer positions and duties may be restricted for individuals with a past criminal history.
Before Volunteering, Understand the Prison Rape Elimination Act
Before volunteering at DOC, it is important to be familiar with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). It prohibits sexual misconduct in correctional settings such as prisons, jails, lockups, and juvenile facilities. Sexual misconduct under this law includes:
- Inmate-on-inmate sexual assault and abuse
- Staff-on-inmate sexual misconduct (sexual/inappropriate relationships with inmates)
- Inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate sexual harassment
The Department has zero tolerance for sexual offenses committed against inmates by other inmates, as well as sexual offenses committed by employees, volunteers, and contract staff. DOC has designed and implemented PREA training specific for staff, contractors, volunteers, and inmates. The Information for Staff, Contract Staff and Volunteers PREA brochure provides additional information and volunteer responsibilities.
How to Apply
- All applications must meet and maintain the qualification requirements.
- Complete the following forms:
Submit completed forms by email to the Volunteer Program , or mail* to:
Department of Corrections
Address of the Facility
*If you do not know which facility location you want, please email it to the Volunteer Program .
Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies, that apply to volunteering.
- DOC Policy 130.200 Lawsuit Processing/Staff Liability Protection
- DOC Policy 150.150 Visits and Tours of Department Facilities and Offices
- DOC Policy 230.500 Vehicle Use
- DOC Policy 280.525 Record Management
- DOC Policy 400.025 Identification Cards
- DOC Policy 490.800 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prevention and Reporting
- DOC Policy 490.850 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Response
- DOC Policy 530.100 Volunteer Program
- DOC Policy 560.200 Religious Programs
- DOC Policy 800.020 Use of State Resources
- DOC Policy 810.015 Criminal Record Disclosure and Finger Printing
- DOC Policy 850.025 Outside Employment/Volunteer Activities
- DOC Policy 850.030 Relationships/Contacts with Offenders
- DOC Policy 850.625 Sexual Harassment
- DOC Policy 860.200 Recognition Program
- DOC Policy 870.400 Personal Appearance/Uniform Standards
- DOC Policy 890.000 Safety Program
- DOC Policy 890.610 Tuberculosis (TB) Program for Employees, Contract Staff, and Volunteers
- DOC 03-440 Volunteer Application and Registration
- DOC 03-031 Criminal Disclosure
- DOC 03-421 Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement
- DOC 03-506 Institutional Employment/Service Disclosure
- DOC 03-502 Sexual Misconduct Disclosure
- DOC 05-370 Criminal History Records Check
Laws & Regulations
Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
- RCW 51.12.035 Volunteers
- RCW 72.09.060 Organization of department – Program for public involvement and volunteers