Volunteering in Your Local Jail or Prison
The CLF can offer our prisoner-members valuable spiritual support by mail… but that doesn’t compare to the in-person experience of Unitarian Universalism that you and other UUs can bring to prisoners in your local jails and prisons through worship services, discussion groups, one-on-one visits, and other UU programming. To get started…
1. Find out which county jails and state / federal prisons are nearby (you can find a map of federal prisons at www.bop.gov, and to find state prisons, do an internet search on your state’s name and “Dep Corrections” and then look for a map or list of prisons).
2. Talk with members of your congregation and with family and friends to find people who have experience working in, or being incarcerated in, your local jails / prisons. What can they tell you about your local institution(s) and about volunteering there?
3. Contact your local jail/prison to ask how they use volunteers (religious programming, library aides, GED tutors, AA/NA groups, childcare during visiting hours, etc.) and when they offer trainings and security screenings for new volunteers. Talk with some current volunteers about what it’s like to volunteer at that institution.
4. The religious programming in many jails and prisons is often heavily slanted toward conservative / evangelical Christian services and Bible studies. See if a team from your local UU congregation could start offering “inter-faith / multi-faith” services, book discussion groups, and other more diverse programming in your local jail/prison for inmates’ education and spiritual growth (in addition to specifically UU programming).