Volunteering in prison is a powerful and rewarding experience. The needs are so great and the men and women who are incarcerated are deeply appreciative of our efforts. Volunteers often find they experience personal growth through the enriching work and mentoring.
The challenges from a prison sentence can continue well after someone is released. Your volunteer role helps people return to society as productive citizens and better cope with the daily challenges of incarceration. By bringing the community into prison, volunteers help reduce isolation and recidivism.
There are several steps involved in becoming a Concord Prison Outreach volunteer. Please review our Get Started Volunteering page for more details.
If you are looking to volunteer over winter break or during a few weeks in the summer, this is not the right program for you. We are looking for volunteers who can make a longer-term commitment with ongoing involvement in the programs.
Many of our programs welcome new volunteers regularly. Programs and opportunities are announced via email and will be discussed at orientation.
If you would like to volunteer outside the walls, the following are annual opportunities.:
- Help us assemble the Holiday Gift Bags that are distributed in prisons across Massachusetts.
- Participate in a special project such as mailing newsletters, writing articles, helping with special events, etc.
- Help CPO staff with program development and curriculum review.
Volunteers come from all walks of life; some volunteers are retired and teach skills that pertain to their professional abilities or career, others are simply passionate about certain topics such as creative writing or painting and want to share their passion with others.
Professionalism is paramount, as is the capacity to adhere to rules set by the Department of Correction. For the safety of volunteers, prison staff, and the people who are incarcerated, the prison staff has the authority to deny admission to a volunteer on a particular day or ban a volunteer for more serious noncompliance.
Volunteering in the prison is not for everyone. If you seek to work with someone on a one-to-one basis, CPO does not provide these types of programs. You might look for opportunities to correspond as a pen pal or look for other organizations that do one-on-one mentoring with people in prison.
Please note: If you are visiting or corresponding with someone in the Massachusetts prison system, you will need special permission to become a volunteer. If you have a history of incarceration, you will need to make a special application to be allowed to volunteer.
While we do not offer training outside of the Concord Prison Outreach Orientation, you will readily learn all aspects of volunteering by participating with one of our program leaders or longstanding volunteers.
We are working on developing training and welcome your thoughts and ideas. If there is a skill you are interested in sharing with us and our volunteers, let us know!
For the safety of the volunteers, staff and incarcerated population, there are many rules and limitations on what you can wear and what you can bring in and take out of the prison. You will learn the rules and expectations for conduct at the Department of Corrections Volunteer Orientation.
Those of us who volunteer feel safe working in the prison. We have never had an incident that compromised the safety of our volunteers. There is always an officer nearby, within shouting distance, and volunteers typically work in pairs. If you have any concerns, please reach out to Sam or Ellie.
The many women who volunteer behind the walls find it a comfortable and rewarding experience.
All of our programs are non-denominational. People of all faiths and no faith affiliation participate in many of them. If you are interested in volunteering for religious services or Bible study programs at the prisons, you can email us and we can give you contact information for the staff chaplains at the prison.
CPO is funded by faith communities around the Commonwealth, grants from community organizations and many like-minded individuals who care about the welfare of people behind prison walls.
If you have questions regarding volunteering, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Ellie through email, firstname.lastname@example.org or contact at (978) 369-1865. Messages are retrieved weekly.
Concord Prison Outreach
2023 Volunteer Handbook
The purpose of this handbook is to contextualize the role as a volunteer inside Massachusetts prisons and jails. It provides information on incarceration in Massachusetts, the on boarding process, volunteer expectations, and polices and procedures.