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Volunteer Program

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 530.100Adobe PDF document file).

About the Program

Volunteer Statistics (CY 2016)
  2016 Hours
Community Corrections 718
Headquarters 24
Prisons 133,122
Work Release 345
Facts
  • The total hours donated by volunteers in 2016 is comparable to 64.5 full time employees.
  • Based on the average state employee salary, the 134,209 hours provided by volunteers in 2016 are valued at $3,161,964.
Thank you, volunteers!

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 530.100Adobe PDF document file). 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.

Volunteer's Impact

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

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.

Qualifications

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 530.100Adobe PDF document file, prospective Department of Corrections volunteers must meet and maintain the following requirements:

  1. Be at least 18 years.
  2. Provide valid, government-issued photo identification.
  3. Not under the supervision of any local, county, state, or federal corrections agency, or under felony indictment.
  4. Not have been released from a state, local, or out-of-state corrections agency or supervision within the past 12 months.
  5. Meet the screening requirements in DOC Policy 490.800 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prevention & ReportingAdobe PDF document file.
  6. Willing to provide a needed service without pay.
  7. 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.)
  8. Not an immediate family member of an individual who is incarcerated at the location where they are volunteering.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 brochureAdobe PDF file provides additional information and volunteer responsibilities.

How to Apply

  1. All applications must meet and maintain the qualification requirements.
  2. Complete the following forms:
  3. Submit completed forms by email to the Volunteer Program , or mail* to:

    Department of Corrections
    Volunteer Applications
    Address of the Facility

    *If you do not know which facility location you want, please email it to the Volunteer Program .

Resources

Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies, that apply to volunteering.

Policies

Forms

Laws & Regulations

Below are state laws (RCWs) and regulations (WACs) that apply to volunteers.

Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

Publications