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Volunteer Opportunities



The Wisconsin Correctional Association (WCA) is a statewide organization of professionals working in Criminal Justice at Federal, State and Local levels. The WCA is open to students who are interested in Criminal Justice and has reduced student memberships. For more information go to:

In addition, WCS is an affiliate of the National Correctional Association:



Wisconsin Innocence Project

The Wisconsin Innocence Project from time to time uses volunteers to assist staff and students with various tasks. Tasks vary depending on the ever changing needs of the organization but would largely consist of administrative/clerical support and may sometimes include supporting law students on cases. Interested persons should send inquiries to:

Frank J. Remington Center
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall
Madison WI 53706

Email: or Phone: 608-262-1002.


UW Morgridge Center

The UW Morgridge Center is the local clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities. Please visit the website:

Click on Students >> Volunteer >> Local Volunteer Opportunities, for additional information.

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Circles of Support

The Circles of Support Project recruits adults from the community to serve on volunteer teams of 4-5 people that encircle an adult formerly incarcerated in jail or prison and who meets certain criteria. MUM trains, matches, and coordinates these "Circles of Support," made up of four or five volunteers who meet regularly with a newly released former prisoner, for at least six months. Circle work might include explaining the bus system, sharing ideas for jobs, or making referrals for housing. But mostly it is listening to the new neighbor and reducing isolation, while increasing accountability. Former prisoners are called Core Team members (CTM). Volunteers are called Circle members. Circle members also benefit by learning about poverty, racism and the criminal justice system.

Understand that as a Circle of Support volunteer you are part of a much-needed and important endeavor. Given the fact that most people who go to prison are eventually released, it is important that communities be prepared to actively participate in efforts to assist returnees in becoming our Neighbors again. Scott (not his real name) was in prison for over six years. Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM) matched Scott to a Circle of Support within a West-side congregation. The Circle of volunteers met with him regularly. When he got discouraged with employment, job layoffs, and even a stint of homelessness, this Circle encouraged him, gave him ideas, and helped him to stay focused. Now it's been two years of success for Scott. He has completed a circle, but not the vicious circle of recidivism.

Instead Scott has joined a Circle of Support himself to "be there" for someone else who was just released. The circle is completing itself. Scott is part of a circle of caring support for another. In communities with similar Circles, recidivism among participating former prisoners has reduced from 50% to 15%. As this is a Restorative Justice initiative, three perspectives are included- those of the community as a whole, those of the victims and those of the former prisoners.

WHICH EX-PRISONERS WILL BE ELIGIBLE for a circle of support: Recently Released Prisoners who may participate in this program and become a Core Team Member (CTM) must:
• be a formerly incarcerated person who requests participation in a Circle
• have been incarcerated at least two years, and
• not been convicted of a serious sex crime or a recent pattern of violent offenses.
Volunteer Circle Members Requirements:
• Must be at least 18 years of age.
• Be screened and trained by MUM through its Circles of Support program;
• Be willing to make at least a 6 month commitment to have at least a monthly meeting with the circle
• Be willing and able to become familiar with and remain nonjudgmental about the prisoner and their families.
If you are interested in becoming a Circle of Support Volunteer please email Circle of Support Coordinator Barbara McKinney.

Mentoring Connections

MENTORING CONNECTIONS Mentoring Connections (MC) provides mentoring services to children who have a parent incarcerated in prison. Madison-area Urban Ministry will recruit, train and guide 70 volunteer mentors in collaboration with faith-based and community-based organizations. A three-year grant from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) assists. There are over 1,600 Dane County children who have a parent in prison. Children of incarcerated parents face health, isolation, attachment and bonding issues. They may also be at risk for going to prison themselves. Seventy percent of incarcerated women are mothers of dependent children. There are disproportionate numbers of people of color in Wisconsin's prisons.

The three primary partners are: Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM), Family Connections of Wisconsin (FC) and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dane County (BBBS). They are joined by many other local organizations, including Dane County Human Services, Circuit Court Judges, Urban League of Greater Madison, state and local government agencies, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These groups will provide additional training, consultation, referral, and evaluation.

Children eligible to receive a mentor:

Volunteer Mentors:

Contact MUM at the numbers or address below to get a mentor or to make a referral!


Grandparents University limnology class Photo: Jeff Miller