Monday, February 18, 2019
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Volunteers & Programs

The Mission of Programs

Programs are critical to effective direct supervision and prepare offenders for successful reentry.

History & Where We Are Headed

Like many jails, our population includes arrestees who have not yet gone to trial, convicted offenders who will serve their time with the county, felons awaiting transport to the Kansas Department of Corrections, and parole or probation violators.  At the former downtown jail, programs were quite limited.  A volunteer pushed a small book cart around the holding cells, distributing discarded reading materials from the public library.  There were occasional AA meetings and Bible study groups.

In 1999 the new correctional facility opened.  We recruited volunteers from the community to expand our program offerings.  By the end of that first year we had a base of more than 100 volunteers, a number that has remained remarkably stable throughout the years.  We have developed strong relationships with area education providers, including Washburn University, Baker University, Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Kansas, USD 497 and the South Central Kansas Educational Services Center.  Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center is contracted to provide mental health and substance abuse recovery programs.  A part-time employment specialist has been hired to teach job readiness classes.  Other social service agencies like Indian Health Services and Douglas County AIDS Project provide programs.  Life skills, mentoring, employment, and meeting basic needs of those who are enrolled in re-entry will be the primary focus of our volunteer recruitment and program expansion.


The Douglas County Correctional Facility has one of the best inmate libraries for its size anywhere in the nation.  Many of the books, magazines and other library materials are provided by the community.  Volunteers solicit donations of reading materials as needed and assist in supervising inmates who re-shelve books.

Volunteers help obtain many quality books from the Heartland Book Bank in Kansas City.  They help train inmate workers, who learn job skills while maintaining the library's diverse holdings.  Selected inmate groups may also be escorted to the library by volunteers.

Addiction & Substance Abuse Recovery

Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center provides our primary substance abuse and addiction recovery classes.  AA and NA meetings are available once a week when there are enough volunteers to take a meeting into all housing units.  A drug and alcohol counselor from Haskell Indian Health Center conducts a Talking Circle for native inmates.

Mental Health

The Bert Nash staff have recently offered Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Thinking for a Change, Pathways to Recovery and other cognitive behavior change classes.  They also provide one-on-one mental health counseling and suicide prevention services.  Several stress management programs help inmates relieve tensions and cope better with their incarceration through various forms of meditation, breathing exercises, art and music therapy.  The latter is provided by a KU graduate student in a supervised practicum each semester.

Life Skills & Family Reintegration

E. Kent Hayes, an internationally recognized parenting specialist, teaches principles of effective parenting. Catholic Charities has sponsored a Dad's Time program for several years.  Big Brothers & Big Sisters periodically comes in to offer supportive mentoring services to the children of those incarcerated in this facility.  Workshops on household financing and budgeting, procedures for acquiring required identification, and other necessities of daily life are periodically offered by volunteers.  Anger & Emotional Awareness classes and Houses of Healing have been instrumental in helping offenders recognize some of the family histories that contributed to their weak emotional development and dysfunctional lives.  Most classes are conducted by older volunteers and graduate student interns from area academic institutions.


The "Learning Lab" is a high school degree completion program.  All funding and staffing for this program is provided through an agreement with USD 497.  Reading tutors work one-on-one with illiterate inmates.  This tutoring requires proven experience and effectiveness working with difficult adult populations.  Math tutoring has proven to be far less difficult to implement than literacy. Most math volunteers can successfully explain decimals, percentages and fractions to inmates who often have gone through school without mastering these basics.  Writing groups have been an important and popular part of our programs for many years.  While the men's writing class, taught by a KU professor, focuses on poetry, the women's group, taught by a Washburn professor, encouraged the women to write more autobiographical essays.  Other recent programs have included a grant funded project administered by faculty and grad students in the KU Education Department designed to improve basic spelling skills.  We have had monthly workshops by the Educational Opportunity Center, a federally funded TRIO program, to learn about how criminal records impact student aid, how to plan for and attain educational goals, and what legal restrictions may apply to various careers and avenues of vocational training.

Employment & Job Skills

A series of classes, presented by a part time professional jobs specialist, prepares inmates to effectively and efficiently look for work upon release.  These classes include intensive mock interviews conducted by volunteers, some of whom are human resource managers from major employers in the community.  Other workshops focus on job retention and what it takes to succeed in the workplace.

Religious Programs

There are over two dozen clergy from a wide range of denominations who are approved for contact pastoral visits.  The correctional facility chaplain is available to visit with any inmate who makes a request.  At least two Bible studies or religious services are offered in each housing unit every week.  The national organization Women's AGLOW comes in to the women's housing unit twice each month.  In addition, we have volunteers on call who have extensive grief counseling training, and other qualified volunteers that provided hospice, sex offender and individual spiritual counseling.

The Douglas County Correctional Facility is always seeking qualified volunteers to help with our ongoing reentry program.  Please contact the Programs Director if you believe you can help us out.

We currently have volunteer openings for:

AA Sponsor- Womens

AA Sponsor- Mens

Anger Management

Art Therapist

Financial Literacy

Learning Disabilities- Practicum
Library Donation Facilitator

Life Skills Workshops

Music Therapist

NA Sponsor- Mens

NA Sponsor- Womens

Post Release Transportation Service
Pre-Release Planning Liasion

Reentry Mentor

Spanish Translator

Sheriff Ken McGovern