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”).
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: