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Volunteer

You can volunteer to participate in a workshop by contacting the AVP ⁄ Iowa workshop coordinator in your area of Iowa or Nebraska.

PLEASE NOTE: This link is not yet set. If you are interested please contact Stan. I'll be pleased to pass your information along.

Participation in a Basic Workshop is the best way to learn about our program. For further information please contact us today.

The Nature of AVP Workshops

Workshops presented here in Iowa are essentially the same as the workshops throughout the United States in prisons and in community workshops, and fundimentally similar to workshops being presented around the world.

We learn by experience. Although the workshops are facilitated by certified AVP facilitators, the facilitators are not ministers, counselors, teachers, lecturers, or know-it-alls. Facilitators present the materials from the AVP Manuals and help guide the sessions, stepping through a series of structured exercises.

Participants share from their life experiences, develop personal understanding, recognize patterns of behavior, and practice new skills of interpersonal communications and interactions. Where intellectual knowledge is generally not helpful in the midst of conflict, repeating nonviolent behavior that has been previously practiced is helpful.

Mandala, circular layout of the relationship of AVP principles

3-Levels of Workshops

There are three workshop levels in the AVP program. Each workshop takes three days, about 20 hours of workshop time.

Everyone begins by taking the Basic Workshop. The basic level workshop builds on such materials as affirmation, communication skills, caring for self and others, while working withing an atmosphere of confidentiality and cooperation. Three days may seem like a long workshop, but you will be amazed at how quickly it flys by. And at completion on the third day you will probably feel, as many have, that we could have easily spent more time on many of the materials.

Once you've completed the Basic Workshop you are eligible to particiate in any of the Advanced Level Workshops. You can take as many of the Advanced Workshops as you care to, most of us find that we continue to gain skills, personal growth, insight and understanding, confidence, communication techniques, and a stronger connection to others with every workshop we take. Advanced workshops focus on a single theme or topic, usually touched on in the basic workshop, but taken much deeper and examined more thoroughly.

Having completed a basic and at least one advanced workshop you are eligible to participate in the Training for Facilitators (T4F) Workshop. This is the same path that all AVP Facilitators have taken. Beyond the new or increased skills that you will gain in AVP workshops, is the opportunity to faciltate these workshops for others. Many of us have expressed that this is one of the most rewarding experiences we have enjoyed. Join a world-wide organization of volunteers for the nonviolent choices in resolving conflict and building a more peaceful world.

Workshop and Program Locations

Map of Iowa Dept. of Corrections facilities and AVP programsIowa State Map showing locations of each facility and current community program initiative. Red dots are Dept. of Correction facilities, black dot indicates a community-based program.

Current AVP/Iowa Community and Prison Workshops
Location Program Coordinator
Anamosa (on hold)  
Clarinda (no program currently)  
Des Moines Community -(on hold)  
Ft. Dodge - FDCF Prison workshop-monthly Stan
Ft. Dodge Community-quarterly Cheryl
Ft. Madison - ISP Prison workshop-monthly Sandy
Iowa City Community -quarterly Annie
Mitchellville - ICIW (on hold)
Mt. Pleasant (on hold)  
Newton (no program currently)  
Oakdale Prison - alternate months Kathleen
Rockwell City (no program currently)  

Community-Based AVP Workshops

Community-Based workshops have been on-going on the East and West coasts of the U.S. for over two decades in some places. Beause we live in a tragically violent society, with rates of violence much higher per capita than European or Scandinavian countries, we have a greater need for learning how to resolve conflict and hold order in our communities. Violence at our places of work, in our schools, on our streets, and in our homes takes a high toll on all of us, diminishing our resources, raising our level of insecurity, providing our children with terrible role models and inappropriate behaviors.

Many inmates have voiced similar, heart-felt concern that their lives "could have been different if AVP workshops had been available when I was younger." It is out of this recognized need that many of us are working to establish community workshop programs in our Iowa cities, churches, colleges, schools, and civic organizations.

If you would like to learn more about how this program can become available in your community, please contact AVP/Iowa or one of the coordinators of a program near you. We would be pleased to discuss this with you or your group. We are called upon frequently to talk about how this 35-year old program of all-volunteers are reaching out to provide alternatives and better choices to help all of us resolve disputes and rancor for better outcomes and a more peaceful community.

Correctional Facility Workshops

Since this program began in 1974, in a New York State prison, at Greenhaven, AVP has spread faster by word-of-mouth from Warden to Warden than any other way. This is understandable when you realize how effectively these workshops change lives. From the start, wardens have noted changes of attitude, deportment, and character in the men and women inmates who have taken several levels of AVP workshops.

This is how it's done: community volunteers, who have become certified AVP facilitators, work together to develop a program that can work within the strictures of the State Department of Corrections. This is usually designed for a specific facility, a local prison or where there is a recognized need. Discussions are opened with the authorities of the Judicial District or directly with a warden. Requirements for the program, clearance for the community volunteers, lists of workshop materials, and a proposed schedule are worked out.

AVP/USA is a recognized organization within most DOC levels of authority. This is an honored program presenting a non-religious, non-denominational matter that is culturally sensitive and based on sound psychological principles and practice. AVP/Iowa is organized under that national umbrella. From the table of facilities listed above, you can see that we have just begun to carry this program into the Iowa prisons.

Statistically, we know that approximately 90% of all inmates currently incarcerated in Iowa's prisons will be out, having completed their sentence, or on parole within six years. That's the rotation. Also, by numbers, we know that statistically 70% of those will be back in prison within three years, a large percentage for parole violation or other infraction involving an act of violence. There are many kinds of violence.

Studies have shown that inmates who have completed a Basic and at least one Advanced Workshop will have a recidivism rate of approximately 30% over the same three-year. That's a big difference. There are over 8,300 inmates in Iowa's prisons. We are currently reaching about 500 per year. (2005, The Alternatives to Violence Project in Delaware: A Three-Year Cumulative Recidivism Study; Marsha L. Miller, Ph.D. and John A Shuford, M.B.A., Ed.S, FACHCA)

You Can Make a Difference

Here are additional numbers that relate to our problem in the United States. These provide an understanding of how violence and related crime affects almost every aspect of our society and economy. The U.S. Deptartment of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics provided the following:

  • As of October 2007, there were 2,293,157 prisoners in Federal or State prisons and local jails. That represents 506 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Americans. There was an annual growth rate of prison population between the year 2000 and 2006 of 2.6% per year. As of the end of 2007, there were 7.2 million people behind bars, on probation, or on parole. The U.S. ranks first in the world per capita, with more than 1 in every 100 citizens incarcerated.

  • More than 1/3 of all prisoners were sentenced for violent crimes. Violent offenses include murder, negligent and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, sexual assualt, extortion, intimidation, criminal endangerment, and other offenses. Over 1/3 of the total male custody was ages 20 to 29 years.
  • According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, documentary, Pew Public Safety Performance Project, dated February 28, 2008: The U.S. had crossed the threshold of "more than one in every 100 adults is now confined in American jails or prisons." Their statistics indicate that the incarceration is having a negligible effect on recidivism or overall crime.

    Again, from the U.S. Deptartment of Justice, "If recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 of every 20 persons will serve time in a prison during their lifetime."