The John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) relies on volunteers to fulfill its mission.
The largest number of JHA volunteers participate in our citizen visiting program. With volunteers on almost all visits, we regularly inspect Illinois' prisons and juvenile facilities, talk to inmates while doing so, and report our observations and recommendations to corrections officials and the public.
Citizen volunteers are among the few non-corrections professionals who see behind the walls of our prisons and juvenile facilities.
If you are interested in participating in JHA’s citizen visiting program, please contact Dan Hoffman, Office Manager, at 312-503-6300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More about volunteering to participate in citizen visits:
Volunteers for citizen visits must be at least 17 years of age. Volunteers for the John Howard Association of Illinois program of citizen visits should be willing to visit institutions on a regular basis. We recommend at least three in the first year and at least two a year thereafter, and we encourage more frequent visiting, as experience and return visits increase the value to both the volunteer and to the John Howard Association. A person who wants to visit a prison only once or twice may chose to join tours offered directly by various jails and the Illinois Department of Corrections at some institutions, which have value but do not afford the access given official John Howard Association of Illinois visits.
Volunteers for citizen visits are required to observe all rules and regulations established by the agencies and facilities visited as well as those established by the John Howard Association of Illinois. We ask that volunteers prepare in advance from materials the John Howard Association of Illinois may provide, and that they take notes during visits which can be shared with other visitors and the John Howard Association staff.
Volunteers for citizen visits must
- read JHA's Rules for Visiting Correctional Facilities (PDF)
- submit a completed volunteer application form (PDF), and
- have a personal interview with a John Howard Association staff person.
Depending on background and expertise, prospective volunteers may be asked to participate in a training session. Volunteers must also pass a background check consisting of a review of criminal history conducted by the Illinois Department of Corrections. This process may take two to six weeks.