Persons engaged in volunteer activities with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (“PEP”) are called to high standards of ethical conduct and personal integrity.  Power and authority are inherent in your role as a volunteer because the men you serve view you as The Expert or the person who has “got it all together” — they want to emulate YOU!

 

PEP operates inside two Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”) prisons and serves men released from TDCJ who may or may not be on parole. PEP operates under the auspices of TDCJ’s Volunteer Services Program and as such our volunteers are subject to their rules and regulations. Volunteers who wish to visit prison more than four times in their lifetime must become TDCJ trained volunteers. To learn more about training opportunities and rules of conduct for volunteers, please visit TDCJ’s website and the section for volunteers at http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/rpd/rpd_volunteer.html (the “Volunteer Handbook”).

IMPORTANT

An overarching rule for TDCJ Trained Volunteers is “volunteers shall not form a non-professional, personal or emotional relationship with an offender.” If a non-professional, personal or emotional relationship develops it is your responsibility as a volunteer to report the relationship to PEP’s management and withdraw from your role as a PEP volunteer. This includes withdrawing from all PEP volunteer activities both inside and outside of prison.

TDCJ views the role of a volunteer as providing “programs and services in an effort to assist with the agency’s mission to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, to reintegrate offenders into society and assist victims of crime.”

 

Volunteers are subject to sanctions for failure to abide by TDCJ rules and regulations or failure to perform responsibilities in accordance with the assignment description or expectations. Being a volunteer is a privilege, and breaking TDCJ volunteer rules can end that privilege.

 

The burden of responsibility for maintaining appropriate boundaries rests squarely upon the shoulders of PEP volunteers.  It is important that those engaged in volunteering for PEP respect the individuals they are serving. It is especially important that PEP volunteers follow the policies and procedures of TDCJ’s Volunteer Handbook and act in a manner that is consistent with PEP’s Ten Driving Values (http://www.pep.org/10-driving-values/) while maintaining healthy, professional boundaries and performing their roles with the highest of ethical standards.

 

In particular, it is expected that, as a PEP volunteer, you will:

  • Maintain appropriate, professional boundaries to avoid impropriety or any appearance of impropriety;
  • Report violations of policy or suspected violations of policy to the appropriate PEP staff member or prison authority;
  • Pre-register (RSVP) for events as requested, and show up on time and prepared to participate in events or activities;
  • Contribute to all activities and foster an environment conducive to learning and personal growth;
  • Dress professionally, modestly and appropriately for all PEP events and functions. This includes refraining from wearing tight-fitting or revealing clothing;
  • Refrain from the use of profane or vulgar language;
  • Refrain from discussions glorifying or accepting the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of alcohol;
  • Maintain Confidentiality: From time to time, volunteers may be privy to and receive information including intellectual property that is proprietary and confidential in nature, either to PEP or a participant. Volunteers are not to transmit, disclose, use or reproduce that information in any form;
  • Refrain from giving or receiving any gifts or other items (e.g. money or mail) to or from any inmate, with the exception of PEP produced materials or correspondence that meets the following criteria:
    • Volunteers may correspond with a PEP participant. PEP requests that all correspondence pass through our Houston office. Correspondence should not include or reference:
      • personal information, such as personal photographs, personal relationships, personal finances, home address, etc;
      • legal and/or financial advice, other than pertaining to the participant’s business plan;
      • any references that are sexual in nature;
      • reference to criminal behavior or gang-related information;
      • reference to other inmates, other than a verified family member of the PEP participant who is also incarcerated; or
      • contraband of any type as determined by TDCJ
    • The word “Volunteer” shall be included as part of the return address. PEP Volunteers shall use the address of the organization as the return address (see example below).

Letter