TDCJ Volunteer Services Newsletter September 2014

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Volunteer Services

Volunteer Services Newsletter September 2014

The Volunteer Of The Year Award Goes To...

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The Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards were created in 1995 through collaborative efforts between the Office of Governor and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ). These awards are designated to honor volunteers, to include a TDCJ employee volunteer and a Criminal Justice Administrator who have made an outstanding contribution to the mission of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ): to provide public safety, promote positive change in behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist victims of crime.  The agency encourages volunteers to become involved in the nomination process.  Do you know of an individual or organization you wish to nominate for one or more of the following categories?

  • Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Restorative Justice Award
  • Female Offender Program Award
  • Most Innovative Program Award
  • Community Service Award
  • Best Family Program Award
  • TDCJ Employee Volunteer Award
  • Criminal Justice Administrator Award

Complete a nomination application, send the original application to Volunteer Services c/o Lisa Langley at Two Financial Plaza, Ste. 472, Huntsville, Texas 77340; or email a scanned copy.  The deadline for nomination applications is October 31, 2014.  

Review the criteria carefully to ensure the volunteer and/or organization meets eligibility for the award.  All nominations should represent volunteers who are currently providing service, represent a diversity of volunteers serving the TDCJ, and represent the impact of their volunteer service upon the programming and rehabilitation of offenders within the agency's custody/and or supervision, their families and/or victims.  Read more about last years award recipients...


Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) Expands to the Estes Unit

In August 2014, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) started its “Leadership Academy” at the Sanders Estes Unit near Venus, Texas.  This 3-month program focuses on the Principles of Effective Leadership, a curriculum developed by PEP over its 10-year history that concentrates on character assessment and development.  The Leadership Academy is designed to be a precursor to PEP’s renowned Business Plan Competition, in which incarcerated participants interact with “free world” executive volunteers to craft a complete plan for a business that they desire to start upon release.  Over the past 10 years, about 165 businesses have been started by the approximately 1,000 released PEP graduates, some of which are grossing more than $1 million per year.  This success and the fact that 100% of PEP’s graduates find work or start their business within 90 days of release have contributed to their 5-7% recidivism rate.  Currently, the complete Business Plan Competition is available only at the Cleveland Correctional Center near Cleveland, Texas.  With adequate funding and volunteer support, PEP plans to expand the program offered at the Estes Unit to include a Business Plan Competition by mid-2015. 

For more information about this opportunity, see or contact Jeremy Gregg at

Enriching The Lives of Offenders Through Literacy

Literacy volunteers

Literacy Highland Lakes volunteers through the Windham School District to teach GED, ESL and Citizenship classes to offenders.  The group began in the Highland Lakes area, west of Austin teaching within the community.  They expanded their services to teach classes at the Ellen Halbert Unit and provide one-on-one tutoring if needed.  "We see it as an opportunity to help the women prepare for a better life.  We give them the educational tools to get good jobs and even further their education," said the programs spokes person.  Math is a stumbling block for many students.  Literacy Highland Lakes supplies extra attention in that area. Since beginning the program at the Halbert Unit; many women have received their GED before releasing from prison.  The spokes person further stated,  "It has been very rewarding to our volunteers to be able to participate in this program.Read more about this program and learn how to become involved...

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Personal Finance Program

Red and Black were experiencing computer server/email difficulties during the time of our previous newsletter.  Feel free to re-contact them at

Read more about the program...