Volunteer in Jail

This week visit Retirement and Good Living online magazine for my guest post on volunteering at the local juvenile justice center.

Detention pod. Photo credit: Lane County Juvenile Justice Center


    • Thank you. Takes a lot of people, actually. The staff work like crazy, and are always a little stressed, with very little acknowledgment. Amazing, really.


    • Yes. All were involved in a crime. Knowing that, it was surprising to find how remarkably ordinary everyone is, except for a disproportionate number who (1) appear to have less than optimal hand-eye coordination, and/or (2) have trouble sitting still or being quiet for longer than a few seconds. My sense is that they all need more acknowledgment and acceptance than most young people.

      Yes, there is a staff person in the room, although for the first 3 years or so there wasn’t, which meant that the door had to be open and the lights on, which meant that every noise outside the room disrupted class, and that is was difficult to have a rest time at the end. It’s much better now that there is enough staff so that one can join us. It hasn’t ever felt dangerous or threatening. Maybe because the woman who volunteered before me, a very proper woman in her late seventies, was so comfortable working with the kids.

      My biggest concern before starting teaching? That it would be a waste of everyone’s time. Most kids don’t have patience for yoga, and these particularly young people need a lot — structure, counseling, tutoring, health care, hope. Would yoga really help? Still can’t say for sure that it’s making any difference given the enormity of the problems they deal with, but as long as well are all enjoying ourselves, on we will go.

      Thank you for asking those questions. It was thoughtful of you, and fun to answer them.


      • I am curious and act like a two-year-old. Why? Why? Why?
        I’m pleased with your in-depth response. Thank you. By the sound of your article, I felt the young people were applying themselves to the yoga. Otherwise your teaching wouldn’t still continue I suppose. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • The guys are pretty happy to get extra attention, love to be asked questions and listened to. My predecessor used to dispense hugs, which is a no-no, but she did it anyway, and they loved that too.


      • Julia – When I worked crime investigations on Fort Ord, if juveniles were the perpetrator of the crime and they often were, one of the things that we saw the brightest was the dire need for human touch and a smile meant just for them. I’m a firm believer in a true love and touch approach with these kids. I’ve seen what it can do in the mental health arena and I don’t see why we so.

        Liked by 1 person

  • What a wonderful post Julia! Sorry it took so long for me to get here but I’ve been sick.
    Who would think that boys would enjoy Yoga? That was brilliant of you! What a perfect way to get them to relax and communicate. And how awesome of you to volunteer. In a correctional facility no less. It’s a great way to fill that empty nest thing. *sigh* I know the feeling. 🙂


  • I’m certain at least 1-2 of the youths out of the whole bunch are benefitting immensely from yoga and meditation.


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