Tutoring At The ACI

Entering the facility (NOTE: You may want to visit our facility-specific pages to find out more about policies and procedures unique to those locations.)

Lock up all belongings in locker or car - make sure nothing is in your pocket.

Inform the officer at the front desk that you are a Petey Greene volunteer tutor and give them your state-issued ID. The officer will keep your ID for the duration of your visit.In some facilities teachers will meet you in the lobby, and in others you may need to explain your presence for tutoring to a correctional office. If questioned by a correctional officer, explain that you should be on the "visit list" for that day, because there is a class you are there to tutor in that meets at this time. Mention which teacher you are tutoring with, and that the teacher is expecting you. If still questioned, calmly explain that the Education Director has you scheduled to come at this time weekly. There is an electronic badge of you in the computer.

Once they have accepted your ID proceed through the metal detector and follow the directions of the officers. The procedure here is similar to an airport: put anything you have in your pockets, including locker keys and tampons, along with glasses or a belt in the tray on the conveyor belt. If you bring a notebook or folder the officer may search that as well. You may need to remove your shoes before going through the metal detector, though if the metal detector goes off you may be asked to consent to a wand search. Common things that may make the detector go off may include metal zipper or metal glasses frames.

If you receive a badge, clip this badge to the neckline of your t-shirt, as it must be visible and at chest level at all times. Be sure to return your badge and reclaim your license/ID on the way out. It is a good idea to check that the license you received is yours.

The officers at the front desk have the ability to prevent you from entering the facility and will do so if they perceive you to be discourteous or impatient.
You will likely be asked to sign your name on a volunteer sign-in sheet upon entering or multiple sign in sheets in different locations, if required by the individual facility.

The officers may wait for all expected teachers to arrive before letting you go down to the education wing. You may be escorted to the education wing by a member of the education staff or an officer. If you need directions, do not hesitate to ask an officer or member of the education staff for help.

When you enter the education wing or library, please check-in with the education staff and let them know you have arrived and are ready for class.
Please be respectful of education staff, officers, and incarcerated people at all times. Please refer to officers as "officers" or “correctional officers” (which will sometimes be shortened within the facility as “C.O.”), not "guards." In the facility, the term that officers tend to use for incarcerated people is “inmates,” though in the Petey Greene context, tutors should refer to students as “students.” It is a good practice to thank the officers for letting you in and out of the prison, as well as to thank the teachers for letting you work in their classrooms.

Tutoring folders

At some facilities, Petey Greene has tutor folders that help track length and consistency of time volunteers spend with students. You MUST fill out the form for Petey Greene tutoring to be accurately tracked. The volunteer tutors should document the date, students tutored, subject, and length of each session. Petey Greene staff Coordinator will explain how to use the folders in more detail during the Petey Greene training.

Classroom Conduct

Please arrive at the facility at your scheduled time (generally a half hour before class starts).
Introduce yourself to the teacher . Ask the teacher how he or she would like you to participate the first day, and say that you anticipate one-on-one or small group tutoring.
Introduce yourself to students and ask students their names before working with them.
Avoid physical contact with the students. Even casual physical contact can put the students at risk for harsh punishments.
Do not discuss the students’ offenses or the length of their sentences. If a student brings this up in conversation, promptly and respectfully guide the conversation back to the academic subject at hand.
Discussions and interactions should always be of a professional nature. Be friendly, but avoid talking in detail about your personal life or theirs.
Each facility has a washroom designated for staff use. Ask an officer or education department employee for directions and a key, if needed.
You should not develop a pen-pal relationship with any student, nor should you carry any messages for them outside the facility. This includes distributing student writing, even for academic assignments, to individuals outside the prison.
If you wish to rearrange the desks in a classroom, make sure to clear this with the teacher or supervisor and put the chairs back in the same place when you leave. If you arrange the desks in a circle, try to place your own seat closest to the classroom door or have a line of sight to the door. Additionally, do not box yourself into a corner. If an officer or education staff member sees that you are seated far from the door, he or she may interrupt your class to ask you to rearrange the seating.
Clearly demonstrate your expectations about appropriate classroom conduct at the beginning of your first session. If students use language or behave in ways that you find objectionable or disruptive, ask them to stop. If the problem continues, address the problem with the classroom teacher.
Class attendance is not something you control. However, if an absence strikes you as out of character or unusual, you may ask an officer to call a student down from his unit.
It is important that we keep accurate attendance records. Please fill out the attendance sheets provided by your coordinator and, if asked to do so, please fill out the attendance sheets that are provided by the education supervisor in the prison.

You will be asked to provide feedback about the program by your Coordinator at the midpoint and end of every semester. In addition, you are welcome and encouraged to provide feedback as often as you would like.

This section presents three cases of potentially problematic situations that may occur while tutoring within a correctional facility. The safe option is always to follow the guidelines provided by your Coordinator and correctional facility. If you find yourself in an awkward or potentially dangerous situation, maintain composure, be assertive, and immediately reach out to teachers or administrative staff nearby. After you leave the facility, tell your Van Leader and Coordinator about the incident immediately.

While the classroom space is intended to be as normal an academic setting as possible, please do not forget that you are in a correctional facility. Be aware at all times and do not place yourself or the students in unnecessary danger. With everyone's commitment to safety and proper practices, we can continue to provide education to New Jersey's incarcerated population.

Case 1: A student asks you to pass on a letter to a friend, newspaper journalist, or someone else.
Proper Response: Do not agree to take the letter. This is strictly against prison guidelines and could jeopardize our program. There are ways for incarcerated people to send letters to family and friends, as well as internal mechanisms for facility maintenance and oversight. Your responsibility within the prison is limited to tutoring. Simply explain to the student that passing the note is against program guidelines.

Case 2: While tutoring, a student does something extremely inappropriate, such as exposes himself or becomes belligerent.
Proper Response: Immediately notify the teacher or nearest supervisor or corrections officer about the incident. Do not panic and do not simply accept the behavior.

Case 3: A student asks for personal information like your phone number or address.
Proper Response: Do not give out any personal information other than what is necessary to tutor; for instance, your first or last name or college. It is important to be friendly and build a professional tutor-student relationship to facilitate the learning process, but prison rules also require that tutors do not disclose personal information to students.

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