September Rehabilitation Programs Division Volunteer Services Newsletter

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Volunteer Services

Rehabilitation Programs Division Volunteer Services Newsletter


A Message from Rehabilitation Programs Division Director







Thank you volunteers, for your amazing generosity, your dedication as a volunteer is an inspiration to others.

Many blessings upon you!
Mr. Carter     

The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation. 
                - Corrie Ten Boom


Temperature Related Illness!

Temperature Related Illness

Heat Precautions – staff, inmate, and volunteers need to be cautious of heat during the summer months, especially when in extreme heat.  Remember, heat-related illness can quickly progress from heat cramps, to heat exhaustion, to heat stroke.

Hypothermia - cold-related illness – hypothermia is a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. 

Recognition of HEAT Illness

Heat Cramps - involuntary muscle spasms following hard physical work in a hot environment, heavy perspiration, cramping in the abdomen, arms, and calves. 

Heat Exhaustion - Weakness, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea, profuse perspiration, rapid pulse, rapid breathing.  Possible confusion or loss of coordination may lead to heat stroke if not treated.  

Heat Stroke - EMERGENCY!  Death is Imminent!
Diminished or absent perspiration, hot, dry and flushed skin.  Increased body temperatures, delirium, convulsions, seizures, possible death.  Rapid pulse, weakness, headache, mental confusion, dizziness, extreme fatigue.  Nausea/vomiting, incoherent speech progressing to coma.  Medical care is urgently needed.

Recognition of Hypothermia

Hypothermia Category 1 - Loss of body heat, shivering, lack of interest or concern, speech difficulty, forgetfulness, mild unsteadiness in balance or walking, loss of manual dexterity. 

Hypothermia Category 2 - EMERGENCY!!                      Death is Imminent!

Shivering stops, exhaustion, drowsiness, confusion, sudden collapse, slow pulse and breathing, pupils dilated, cardiac arrest, may lead to category three if not treated. 

Hypothermia Category 3 - EMERGENCY!!                      Death is Imminent!

Individual is comatose, no palpable pulse, no visible respiration.

As part of our ongoing efforts to remain safe we are providing the link below to ensure that volunteers, staff, and inmates remain aware during extreme temperatures.  

*Additional information on Heat & Cold Related Illness can be found in the Handbook for Volunteers.

Please feel free to contact the Volunteer Services office should you have questions or need assistance.


Volunteers Needed for Peer Support Programs at Specific Units!

What is a TDCJ Peer Support Coach? 

A Peer Support Coach is a TDCJ inmate who has completed formal peer support training and has received credentials/designation as a peer support specialist. A Peer Support Coach provides recovery support services to other inmates, acting as role-models for their peers, and inspiring success by utilizing first-hand knowledge to demonstrate resilience and self-empowerment. They facilitate groups, provide educational material and ongoing support to their peers through approved curriculum.

What does a Peer Support Coach do?

A Peer Support Coach helps other inmates achieve recovery through mentorship and acts as a “resource broker” to encourage and assist other inmates in:

▪ Identifying long-term and short-term goals

▪ Evaluating choices and decisions

▪ Recognizing the value of self-determination

▪ Shifting focus from management of symptoms to acknowledgement of achievements and capabilities

▪ Relinquishing destructive attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors learned in the criminal justice setting

▪ Providing resources for recovery support, pro-social activities and re-entry services

Currently the following units have Peer Support Programs in place.  If you are interested you may contact the facility chaplain. 

Michael, Polunsky, Hughes, Kyle
Memorial, and Hamilton.

did you know

Individuals who want to participate in volunteer activities, but are not approved volunteers, can be considered special volunteers with the approval from the chaplain or facility volunteer coordinator and warden or designee.

Special Volunteers 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. 

For more information about becoming a special volunteer contact the chaplain or facility coordinator.

The Importance of Volunteers

Volunteers play a significant role in the criminal justice setting. Because of their first-hand experience and/or devoted interest in their field, volunteers can gain the attention and respect of inmates.           

Volunteers are key players in programs designed for rehabilitation and reentry of offenders into the community. The transition process seeks to produce inmates who are law-abiding citizens with the strengths and skills to successfully manage the problems they will face daily.   Volunteers are the role models for this journey and are an invaluable addition to the agency’s limited resources.

“What is the role of a volunteer?”

To provide programs and services to assist with the agency’s mission to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, to reintegrate inmates into society and assist victims of crime.  Placement, or facility assignment of volunteers is based on the needs of the institution, needs of the inmate population, space availability, existing program schedules, and the proposed volunteer activity. Volunteers must not interfere with the custodial responsibilities of the TDCJ.

Volunteer Happenings!

Universal Beyond Bars Graduation Class


Universal Beyond Bars hosted a self-awareness and anger managing class at the Lane Murray unit. This class is aimed at helping the women understand where their anger stems from, and how to control it in a healthy way that will better themselves. 

Polunsky's First Prison Fellowship Academy


The Polunsky unit launched its inaugural Prison Fellowship Academy Class. 

Prison Fellowship uses targeted curriculum, compassionate coaches, and restorative community to help participants on a journey toward good citizenship.  You will be challenged to identify your strengths and weaknesses, learn a new value system based on the Values of Good Citizenship, and practice new ways of thinking and acting.  You’ll not only experience individual change but will be prepared to make a positive impact in your community.

The Academy includes topics such as communication, goal setting, emotions, problem solving, value formation and more using Curriculum, Formation Groups, 1-on-1 Coaching, Community Meetings, Service Projects such as Habitat for Humanity, Volunteers and Guests and, at the end of the Academy, you will have completed a Life Plan, which will provide you a personal roadmap to long-term success.

The Academy currently operates in many prisons nationwide, and several studies have proven that the program works.  Graduates complete the program as change agents and good citizens inside and outside of prison.  The Academy is changing lives, and yours could be next!

Academy Participants are led step by step to:  Reflect (Who am I? What am I doing here?); Reset (changing my mind and responses); Relate (making the right choices with people and places); and Restore (moving forward and planning for my future).

Welcome Back In-Person Trainings!


(pictured left: Captain Miller and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Board Member Sichan Siv attend an in-person Volunteer Services training.)



The role of the volunteer within TDCJ is to provide guidance in specific activities and programs, promote personal growth and development, provide support and assistance to victims and inmates, and help facilitate re-entry into the community. 

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you are encouraged to apply by submitting a volunteer application and completing the TDCJ volunteer training. Currently, new volunteer applicants needing to complete their initial training, are eligible to complete the TDCJ online volunteer training, in addition, in-person volunteer training sessions are also available.


(above: Volunteer Training session held at the First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, TX

Ch Bright

(above: Chaplain Bright and Warden Demyers facilitating a Volunteer Training session held at the Mt. Horeb Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, TX) 

Mt. Horeb Church Training

(above: Rev. Jermaine Johnson, Pastor Samuel Smith, Rev. David Odom, and Rev. Kevin Shiner) Pastor Samuel Smith and the ministry staff from Mt. Horeb Missionary Baptist Church, which has a history of prison ministry dating back to 1964, have expressed their interest in rendering volunteer services to several facilities as well as parole offices.  Pastor Smith has been pastoring for over 50 years and is 92 years young.  

training 1

(above: Certified Volunteer Chaplain's Asst. (CVCA) Sadie Elliot, Volunteer Steven Sosa, and CVCA Rosey Ruiz hard at work helping sign-in at an in-person volunteer training at the Mt. Horeb Missionary Baptist Church)

Judy Brucia

(pictured left: Certified Volunteer Chaplain's Asst. (CVCA) Judy Brucia and RPD Director Christopher Carter)

CVCA Judy Brucia has served as a dedicated volunteer since 2010, serving as a CVCA three days a week she has truly made a difference in the lives of so many staff and inmates at the Mark W. Stiles unit.

Thank you, Ms. Brucia for your dedication and passion for rehabilitative programs. 

magdalene wpm

Mary Magdalene Prison Ministry from Fredericksburg TX serving the ladies in white during their retreat at the Hilltop Women's Prison in Gatesville.


Volunteer Services would love to see what our volunteers are doing across the state.  Please send your photos and a brief description of the event to Lisa Langley or the Volunteer Services Department by  email:

Thank you_You make a Difference

 "The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others."

- DeAnn Hollis