about the

Jail Tutoring Program

Vision, Mission, values

We hold that literacy is a fundamental human right, essential to the ability to improve one’s quality of life. We work towards a vision of basic reading, writing, math, and communication competency skills for any person who finds him or herself incarcerated in the Dane County Jail.


  • Identify men and women incarcerated in the jail who may benefit from help with literacy skills and make them aware of the opportunity for one-on-one support.
  • Recruit, train, and support volunteers to provide one-on-one reading, writing, and math tutoring.
  • Provide a tutor to any person who identifies him or herself as seeking help with literacy.

Core Values

  • We believe in the life-serving value of self-expression and effective communication; we seek to build literacy skills alongside a sense of pride, competence, hope, self-worth and joy.
  • We believe that pleasure in learning, the relevance of materials to learners’ lives, and consistent support are key to building effective learning situations.
  • We follow research-based principles for reading assessment and instruction, and support our tutors in data-driven instructional decision-making.
  • Our teaching methodologies take into account the impact of trauma on concentration, memory, and organizational and language abilities.
  • We believe in a collaborative partnership between tutor and learner; our tutors are trained in the empathy-based principles of Nonviolent Communication©.
  • We understand the importance of a good match between tutor and learner; we follow up to make sure the match is meeting both parties’ needs.


The Jail Tutoring Program is an outreach program of the Madison Area Jail Ministry, an ecumenical non-profit organization that employs two chaplains to provide spiritual care to the men and women housed in the Dane County Jail.

In 2009, struck by the stark correlations between rates low literacy rates and high rates of incarceration, Chaplain John Mix first started bringing literacy tutors into the jail.

Today the program is coordinated by Charlie Marcotte together with the lead chaplain, Todd Marcotte. Their goal is to offer tutoring support to anyone in the jail who identifies him or herself as being in need.