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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 the online volunteer application and the required volunteer training session online.

    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 12 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 12 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 e-mail or mail notification of their volunteer status.

  • How long is the application process?
  • For an applicant with a clear criminal history, the process typically takes 20 working days. 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-inmate volunteer?
  • Yes, generally ex-inmates may serve as a volunteer provided they have a clear criminal background for the previous 12 months and have demonstrated successful reentry into the community. The Partners Program allows for ex-inmates to serve as a substance abuse volunteer six months after their release. The ex-inmate must be sponsored by an approved volunteer and must have a year of sobriety to be eligible for the Partners Program. Ex-inmates may also participate in the volunteer program as a special volunteer six months 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.

  • How long is the on-line training?
  • On-line volunteer training takes approximately two hours, uninterrupted.

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

  • 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 donate.

  • What if someone I know is currently incarcerated within the TDCJ?
  • Volunteers shall not be placed at a facility where a relative, friend, victim, or enemy resides or is supervised. 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 facility volunteer authority and the Volunteer Services Department by calling (936) 437-3026. The volunteer may be reassigned to another facility.

  • Can I visit an inmate in regular visitation?
  • A volunteer may not visit an inmate in regular visitation unless the inmate is a family member or individual with whom a relationship was established prior to incarceration and previously declared to the Volunteer Services Department.

  • Can I deposit money into an inmate’s trust fund account?
  • A volunteer or their family members may not deposit money into an inmate’s trust fund account unless the inmate is a family member or individual with whom a relationship was established prior to incarceration and previously declared to the Volunteer Services Department.

  • How many facilities can I serve?
  • Approved volunteers can serve on multiple facilities based on the facility needs and space availability.

  • After becoming an approved volunteer, will I be able to write letters to inmates?
  • Yes, volunteers (excluding employee and Victim Services volunteers) may correspond with an inmate(s). Appropriate correspondence should be focused on rehabilitation and reentry efforts and in line with approved volunteer programming. Promoting of illicit behavior may lead to termination of the volunteer’s approved status. Examples of prohibited correspondence include providing legal advice, disclosure of intimate information, promoting of inappropriate sexual activity, use or transfer of contraband, and correspondence circumventing security or establishing inappropriate relationships.

    A volunteer is required to use a postal box address or the address of the organization, program, or church they represent as the return address and include the word “Volunteer” as part of the return address on all correspondence. A volunteer may utilize JPay as long as they clearly identify themselves as a volunteer in all correspondence.

    Victim Services volunteers may only correspond with inmates through the Victim Services Division, and only while performing duties related to their volunteer assignment.

    TDCJ employee volunteers may not correspond with inmates.

  • How do I begin?
  • 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 inmate population, space availability, existing program schedules, and the proposed volunteer activity. See the Unit Directory for a list of units and contact information.

  • What is a special volunteer?
  • Individuals who want to participate in volunteer activities, but are not approved volunteers, can be considered special volunteers with the approval from the facility volunteer coordinator and warden or designee. Opportunities to participate as a special volunteer is beneficial in recruiting approved volunteers. Individuals do not complete a volunteer application but may provide a service or participate in volunteer activities no more than four times. After the fourth visit as a special volunteer, the individual is encouraged to become an approved volunteer for future visits. Individuals who participate in crusades, can participate in no more than four crusade events in a calendar year.