Volunteer with the John Howard Association

The John Howard Association of Illinois appreciates your interest in learning more about volunteer opportunities within our organization. We rely upon volunteers to fulfill our mission.

There are four areas for which we seek and place volunteers:

  • Citizen prison monitoring
  • Prisoner information services
  • Fundraising
  • General administrative/office

  • Citizen Prison Monitoring
    The largest number of JHA volunteers participate in our citizen monitoring program. Citizen volunteers are among the few non-corrections professionals who see behind the walls of our prisons and juvenile facilities. With volunteers on almost all visits, we regularly inspect Illinois' prisons and juvenile facilities, talk to incarcerated people while doing so, and report our observations and recommendations to corrections officials and the public.

    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 detailed notes during visits which can be shared with other visitors and the John Howard Association staff.

    Interested in volunteering? Here are the next steps.

    Selected volunteers must 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. In addition, all volunteers will be required to participate in a training session led by the John Howard Association of Illinois.

    Contact person
    If you have any questions or concerns regarding JHA’s volunteer programming, please contact Scott C. McWilliams, Volunteer & Prison Correspondence Project Manager, via email at smcwilliams@thejha.org.