Navigating The Four-Seven
First off, we’re stoked you even came to this page! The life-change that we witness and experience in this ministry is fueled by people such as yourself.
We know the idea of volunteering inside a prison can be a daunting thought. To make it a little easier, we have some answers to a few Frequently Asked Questions below.
Whether you are a current/interested volunteer, a returning citizen, or the loved one of someone incarcerated, please see the FAQs below for some insight.
Don’t see your question listed below? Shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to help!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I volunteer?
So you’re interested in volunteering? Thank you for leaning into that little nudge from God and saying “yes” – even if you don’t know where that “yes” will lead.
First and foremost, even if you are considering being a volunteer, you need to attend a training. Why? Well, it’s required by the state of Ohio, but also so you know exactly what is being asked of our volunteers. And, hey, if you go to the training and decide this isn’t for you, that’s totally okay too.
Sign up for a training right here.
Can I volunteer if I have a criminal background?
Yes you can! In fact, if you’ve been previously incarcerated, you have a powerful story that men and women on the inside can immediately connect with. To join us on the inside, no volunteers can be on parole or probation.
If you have a criminal record, the prison’s warden will have final say. Though, with that being said, we have dozens of returned citizen serving in prisons with us. The states in which we serve greatly value released individuals returning to prison as volunteers.
What can male volunteers wear inside?
Approved Four–Seven attire such as t-shirts, collared shirts, jackets with Four-Seven logos are acceptable.
Collared shirt with sleeves, preferably plain, but a small logo is acceptable. No cut-off shirts are permitted.
Dress pants or jeans without holes, no shorts and close toed shoes.
No camouflage or sports logo clothing.
Business Casual attire is the preferred standard.
What can female volunteers wear inside?
- Approved Four–Seven attire such as t-shirts, collared shirts, jackets with Four Seven logo are acceptable.
Limited and simple jewelry, conservative top with sleeves. No sleeveless, low cut or transparent tops will be permitted. On shirts, a small lo go is acceptable.
Dress pants (or jeans without holes) and close toed shoes are required.
Camouflage or sports logo clothing are prohibited.
Dresses, skirts, shorts, yoga pants/leggings, capris and high-heels are prohibited.
Business Casual attire is the preferred standard.
What can I bring inside?
- Must have driver’s license.
Can bring in one car key.
If you have received a procedure that will set off the metal detector (such as an artificial hip), you will need physician paperwork to present upon each entry at the institutions. Without this paperwork, you may be denied entry. Please see your physician for assistance.
Permitted to bring in one notebook and pen (notebook cannot have a zipper).
Sealed bottle of water only.
Other drinks, such as fast food beverages and coffee, are prohibited.
All other materials (including cell phone, fitbits, smart watches, wallets, etc.) must be left in your car.
Can I volunteer in a prison of the opposite sex?
We encourage men to volunteer alongside women in female prisons and women to volunteer alongside men in male prisons.
Why? Simple – we want to replicate our communities to those behind bars. It’s important for men to have healthy interactions with women. And for some men, that means modeling their behaviors toward women based on what they see from our male volunteers.
For women, we know that roughly nine out of ten who come to prison have some form of abuse from men in their past. It is important for them to experience safe, healthy relationships with our male volunteers.
With all of this being said there are two important details – men serving in female prisons will always be accompanied by a female volunteer and females serving in male prisons will always be accompanied by a male volunteer.
Can I volunteer if I have a loved one in prison?
Yes, you can. However, there is a big stipulation – you cannot volunteer at a prison that houses an inmate that you visit, correspond with directly (JPay, email, mail, phone, etc.), or are in communication regularly with their immediate family.
Have questions? Ask us and we’ll be happy to help.
How can my loved one get involved in Four-Seven programs?
First, check out the locations where Four-Seven currently is active right here. Next, if your loved one is at one of those prisons, encourage them to send a kite to their chaplain and ask to be put on the gate pass for one of our programs (we suggest starting with Crossroads Anywhere to begin).
Is your loved one not at one of those locations? No worries, we have a team of letter writers who would be happy to connect with them from afar. Just drop us a line and let us know you’re interested.
As a volunteer, can I have communication with someone once they are released?
We want to ensure we are helping returning individuals be successful upon their release from prison. Part of that means that it is important their success and their walk with Christ is not dependent upon just one person.
With that in mind, we ask our volunteers to refrain from providing assistance to individuals for six months after their release. That means no house visits, car rides, purchases, donations, etc.
However, many returning individuals join us at church, AA meetings, or even come back in to serve. There are ways for us to continue seeing them and building into them – we just want to make sure we are doing it in a healthy way.
Please email us for clarification, if you have a specific request or concern. These policies aren’t in place to hurt relationships, but instead are in place to ensure we are properly assisting our brothers and sisters.
Our reentry team is designed to provide thorough support to those leaving prison – that means finding housing, locating jobs, getting a driver’s license, etc.
Should you have questions, please reach our to our Reentry Director, Ron Mabry.
Can I have communication with someone in prison if I am a volunteer?
Simply put, no you cannot have communication with an inmate who is incarcerated at a prison in which you serve as volunteer. That means no phone calls, no emails, no letters, no communication with inmate family, no financial support to the inmate or inmate’s family, no legal advice, and no written letters of support for parole or probation hearings.
Should an individual need assistance, they have direct lines of communication to The Four-Seven and our support team. Please encourage them to ask their chaplain for contact information, should they need it.