Become a Prisoner Advocate: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Aug 15, 2018

Find out how to become a prisoner advocate. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in prisoner advocacy. View article »

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  • 0:01 Become a Prisoner Advocate
  • 0:55 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:05 Work for a Nonprofit
  • 2:38 Consider Career Advancement

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Video Transcript

Become a Prisoner Advocate

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Criminal justice, sociology, human services, or a related field
Experience Volunteering useful for future paid positions
Licensure Licensing might be required for select positions in certain states
Key Skills Excellent oral and written communication and problem-solving ability; empathy
Salary $30,830 (median for social and human service assistants)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Prisoner advocates listen to the needs of inmates and their families and work with officials and politicians to resolve practical and legislative problems in prison systems. Advocates might promote education and rehabilitation programs for inmates, lobby for prison reform and provide inmates with information and resources. This position also might include studying past and current issues to develop prisoner rights defense strategies. This job can be stressful, especially since there might be more work than an advocate can realistically handle.

Prisoner advocates need excellent oral and written communication skills, along with empathy and problem-solving abilities. Let's find out what steps you can take to become a prisoner advocate.

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Prospective prisoner advocates might pursue a degree in criminal justice, legal studies, sociology, human services, social work or a related field. These programs often include courses in the justice system, research, criminal law, psychology and ethics. Many degree programs also require foreign language courses, which could allow prisoner advocates to help a wider range of clients.

Volunteer with Prisoner Advocacy Groups

Volunteers can receive in-depth experience working with inmates and their families. Aspiring advocates might visit prisons, participate in fundraising, interview and correspond with prisoners and provide information to the public. Since many groups are run mainly or exclusively by volunteers, you might be able to play a large role and become involved with many different aspects of prisoner advocacy. Volunteers are often given priority when paid positions become available.

Work for a Nonprofit

As noted earlier, many workers with nonprofit organizations are volunteers, but some paid advocacy positions are available, especially for prisoner advocates with a range of relevant skills. Advocates are especially needed to publicize and lobby for the causes of nonprofit organizations. This work might involve studying legislation and preparing arguments against or in support of it, as well as working with the government on behalf of individuals.

Consider Career Advancement

Prisoner advocates who want to advance in their career might consider attending law school. As attorneys, they could provide legal assistance to people recently released from prison. They could also fight for prisoner rights within the judicial system.

To recap, prisoner advocates usually have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, human services or a related field. Those who aspire to work in this field could benefit from volunteering with a prisoner advocacy group.

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