This edition of Inside Corrections emphasizes our correctional officers which are a majority of our 4,600 employees on the current payroll. We have a constant struggle to keep the public informed on our operations and this includes the duties and roles of our employees. Correctional officers are a good example of the need to constantly and consistently inform the public of what a correctional officer is. When I first became director I asked several news reporters why they insisted upon using the word, “guard” when referring to correctional officers either in print or on television. The responses included that newspaper editors used guards as it took up less space in an article. Another answer was that the public knew what a guard was and might be confused by the term correctional officer. So as you can see explanations vary but the focus for us will always be to market correctional officers as the proper title. To do anything less would show disrespect for a profession that is becoming more and more complex.
Anytime your career is focused on the most complex living thing on earth, other human beings, the challenges change each day. Interactions of correctional officers with offenders are one of the most important daily roles. The role modeling, communication and other aspects of verbal and non verbal communication are large contributors to setting the tone and atmosphere on a facility yard. The extremes of correctional officer job duties go from the aforementioned to responding to emergencies. Our training and preparation for emergencies is one of the best in the nation. I have no hesitation in presenting that fact as I see the results on a daily basis whether that involves a CERT response, approval of assault plans or reviewing video and/or written SIRs.
It is incumbent on all of us to educate the public on what we do. We have been able to have our correctional officers honored each year at the state capitol, have a yearly Governor’s proclamation and a host of other recognition events. However, it is our interaction with the general public that will make the biggest difference.
Corrections Division Correctional Officer of the Year and 2008 Agency Correctional
Officer Supervisor of the Year:
Joseph W. Glasco, Chief of Security I, SEDCC Earl Davis Community Work Center is the Community Corrections Division Correctional Officer Supervisor of the year for 2008.
He began his career with the agency in October, 1990. Chief Glasco has coordinated the daily operations of two work centers in the SEDCC. He also implemented some basic security procedures he observed were lax at Marshall County Community Work Center (MCCWC), and found ways to schedule and work staff so little if any overtime would be needed.
Chief Glasco sets a mature example for his staff and the example is set for them to follow. He is often described as honest, dependable, hard working, ethical, and very willing to take on a challenge.
He became a mentor to staff at MCCWC. Staff appreciates the way he interacts with them by telling them and showing them what he expects, then allowing them to practice. They further appreciate his willingness to correct anyone not willing to maintain good security practices.
2008 Community Corrections Division Correctional Officer of the Year,
2008 Agency Correctional Officer of the Year:
James A. Cromwell, Correctional Security Officer III, Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center is the Community Corrections Division Correctional Officer of the year for 2008.
He began his career with the agency in July, 2004. Corporal Cromwell has spent many long hours designing an offender data base that is used by officers throughout KBCCC. He has made what used to be a very time consuming process more accurate and efficient with the use of the data base.
Corporal Cromwell is always working at 100 percent when he is on duty. He is always willing to take on extra assignments when needed or help other officers meet deadlines. He eagerly takes advantage of all training opportunities that are offered to him whether in the classroom or just absorbing the knowledge of more experienced officers.
He is an excellent role model for new officers and assists in their training. Cromwell has recently joined the Department of Corrections Honor Guard. He takes this added duty with great seriousness and pride.
2008 Probation and Parole Officer of the Year:
Crystal L. Angelo.
Crystal L. Angelo, Probation and Parole Officer III, Central District Community Corrections is the Agency Probation and Parole Officer of the year for 2008.
She began her career with the agency in April, 2004. She has been actively involved in a national multi-jurisdictional caseload study that is researching the differential effect of caseload size on outcomes related to recidivism for medium and high risk offenders, as well as the impact of evidence based practices on recidivism outcomes. She is a member of the district’s Affirmative Action Committee, the Planning Committee, and the agency’s Honor Guard.
Her family has a background in law enforcement which led to her interest in the department. One of the things she enjoys about the job is that it’s “never the same day twice.” She enjoys helping people and doing investigations. She was thrilled and excited when she learned of her selection as Probation and Parole Officer of the Year. She stated, “I wouldn’t have thought it possible five years ago.”
She resides in Oklahoma City with her husband and four dogs. She enjoys turkey and deer hunting and is looking forward to October when she is going elk hunting with her family. She is a 2004 graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma.
2008 Field Operations Division Correctional Officer of the Year,
2008 Agency Correctional Officer of the year:
Travis P. Ary, Correctional Security Officer IV at Joseph Harp Correctional Center is the Agency Correctional Officer of the Year for 2008.
He began his career with the agency in 2006 after working ten years in retail management for Wal-Mart. He was recruited to the agency by Lt. William Weldon of Joseph Harp Correctional Center.
He is an Honor Guard member, a member of the JHCC Correctional Emergency Response Team, and serves as a volunteer fire fighter and EMT in his community of Lexington. He is described as a respected and motivational leader with a reputation for assessing situations and making sound decisions.
One of the things he enjoys about his job, is that “you can see if you are helping people” which is much more satisfying than his previous employment in retail. He also likes mentoring cadets and believes that being approachable helps in that regard as well as bringing him personal enjoyment.
He credits his supervisors for taking him under their wings and giving him opportunities to further his career. He feels an obligation to treat people like he has been treated and to share what he knows like others did for him. Being selected as officer of the year is a “great honor that I’m very appreciative of.”
Sgt. Ary is married with two children ad resides in Lexington. He enjoys spending time with his family, riding motorcycles and classic cars. He is a graduate of Lexington High School.
2008 Field Operations Division Correctional Officer Supervisor of the
Year, 2008 Agency Correctional Officer Supervisor of the year:
Michael J. Shelite, Correctional Security Manager I, James Crabtree Correctional Center, Helena, is the Agency Correctional Officer Supervisor of the Year for 2008. He began his career with the agency in 1989 and is currently responsible for the daily operations of the property room and mail room. He is the CERT Commander for James Crabtree CC and the assistant commander of the Agency’s Honor Guard. In addition to his duties at JCCC, he serves on three separate volunteer fire departments and is a first responder for the Alfalfa County Emergency Medical Services. He has also served in the Oklahoma National Guard, serving a twelve month tour of duty in Iraq.
His longstanding interest in law enforcement led him to his career in corrections. He particularly enjoys the tight knit group of employees as James Crabtree CC stating there is a real brotherhood and sisterhood amongst the employees. He credits his supervisors for giving him room to grow. He has learned that it is important to pay attention to detail, keep the lines of communication open, and take care of your employees. He stated it was an honor to be selected Correctional Officer Supervisor of the Year for the agency. He believes that it is important that he set a good example and stay professional.
In his leisure time he enjoys flying, calling it his pride and joy. He has had his pilot’s license for six years.
Lieutenant Shelite graduated from Aline Cleo High School, received his Associates Degree from Redlands Community College, and his Bachelor of Science from Mid America Christian University. He currently resides in Enid, Oklahoma.
On January 20, 2009, this country witnessed an occasion never seen in its
history, an inauguration of our first African American to be sworn into presidency
of the United States of America. Another event was also unfolding which is
believed to be the first of its kind in the nation; the training and orientation
of Correctional Officer Chaplains and Spiritual Counselors, representing
their particular district.
The purpose of the program is to provide spiritual counseling, needs and services to fellow correctional officers and other employees and their families. Other duties include making referrals and coordinating services in conjunction with the Employee Assistance Program and appropriate agencies that can best meet the needs of the employees and their families; visiting fellow employees in the hospital or home during illness; serving as a liaison between the employee and agency regarding employee needs; attending or conducting funerals of correctional employees upon request and maintaining strict confidentiality.
Four uniform correctional officers participated in the two day training program at the Kate Barnard Community Corrections Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The participants consisted of Lt. Ron Hood, Northeast District; Cpl. Christopher Zamudio, Oklahoma County North, Residential Services; Chief of Security, Elois Wilson, Southwest District and Lt. Melvin Castleberry, Southeast District.
The presenters of the training included the Agency Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator, Leo Brown and Employee Assistance Program Coordinator, Ken Skidmore. Introductory remarks were made by the Deputy Director of Community Corrections, Reginald Hines.
Correctional officer chaplains and spiritual counselors are embarking on unchartered waters. Recent surveys of correctional agencies across the United States revealed that no other such program exists. The success of this project relies on how the chaplains/spiritual counselors address and deal with employee’s issues, concerns and needs.
Religion has played a vital role in Oklahoma corrections as it is written in the 1909 Rules and Regulations Handbook of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Number 19 of the Rules Observed By Prisoners, stated, “All prisoners, when not excused, will be required to attend Chapel service.”
The question may have been raised in years past, why not a Correctional Officer Chaplain? The military has chaplains, police departments and other law enforcement agencies have chaplains; why not corrections? Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Some men see things as they are and say why; I dream of things never were and say why not.”
Officers are like family; a tight knit group that don’t always trust those that don’t wear the uniform. Their needs may not be highly visible, but specific needs certainly exist.
The concept was presented to Reginald Hines; Leo Brown and Ken Skidmore who all supported the idea. The work of the Chaplain would take place after regular shift hours and days off unless approved otherwise by the facility head. It was reasonably assured the agency did not have the support or funds to make the Correctional Officer Chaplain’s position a full-time position. It was also known it would be unlikely an officer would provide the services without some type of compensation. The group recommended the proposal would include overtime compensation for hours worked providing services to employees and their families.
The proposal was presented to the Division Chiefs of Security with overwhelming support. The program was inspired by a series of events over several decades which bear the question: “Where is a Chaplain?”
Many of our employees have loved ones that are ill, have physical or mental disabilities or experience life traumatic experiences during their career which may affect their attitudes, performance and their fellow employees. Many needs are specific to the work place.
Chaplains also need their own spiritual counselor to obtain advice, direction and guidance. Participants were told, “If you don’t have one, find someone you trust; you will need them along your journey. You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Develop and seek a framework of community resources and individuals that can assist you in making local referrals. You represent the professionalism of this agency and the people that are called to serve in it. This training will help you to prepare to help others.”
The program agenda items consisted of an overview of the vision, purpose and contents of the job description; Historical Overview of Chaplaincy; Overview of the Employee Assistance Program; Confidentiality; Suicide Situations/Prevention; Death Notification and Grief; Mental Health issues; Trauma Incidents; a Chaplains panel discussion which included Oklahoma Police Chaplain, Jack Poe and Department of Public Safety Chaplain, Sam Gardner. Chaplain Gardner commented that the calling for staff was entirely different than the calling to minister to offenders.
After the participants completed the training and orientation, a pinning ceremony was conducted where each participant received a Certificate of Training and Deputy Director Hines pinned a symbol representing each participant’s faith on the officer’s uniform shirt lapel.
Lt. Ron Hood stated that he is an ordained minister and has been for 20 years. He had his own church and left the ministry and began working in corrections. After awhile, he began to miss the ministry and prayed that a door would be open that allowed him to return to the ministry.
This program is to provide spiritual counseling, needs and services to fellow correctional officers and other employees and their families. Having served as a minister for twenty-three years before coming to work for Department of Corrections in 1999 and feeling that there was a need for such a service, this became a matter of prayer.
Chief Wilson stated he didn’t have to worry about where the funding for the program would come from I had already been paid so we will go forth and do the job. Cpl. Zamudio is being tutored by a minister that was a former police chaplain. He is also planning to attend seminary and he is excited to begin his new duties. He states, “Being accepted after my interview was a very wonderful day in my life. I was being accepted by a jury of my peers as a person who was qualified largely due to my life’s experiences and love for God.” Lt. Castleberry is preaching at his pulpit in Healdton, Oklahoma and conducting wedding ceremonies and funerals. Lt. Castleberry stated, “Corrections Officer Chaplain is the culmination of my two jobs, both of which I love.”
Corrections is a field, a lifestyle all its own. Now Corrections Officers have one of their own to turn to in times of adversity, sickness or death. One of their own, from whom they can garner hope. A mediator, a confidant, a listening ear and a helping reassuring hand through difficult times. Anyone that has spent time in uniform or dealing with those in uniform for just a limited amount of time knows that we are a tight knit bunch.
Mr. Hines stated, “Correctional Officers are a unique group of individuals that have particular challenges that others may not experience; for example, shift work, mandatory shift rotation, stressful work environment, working on holidays and having their days off cancelled or having to work a double shift because they were not sufficiently relieved; etc… Correctional Officer Chaplains/Spiritual Counselors will be able to provide valuable services for our staff; individually as well as family members.”
According to Leo Brown, Agency Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator, “I believe that Community Correctional Officer Chaplains will provide support for our staff in a way that they have not seen in the past. The ability to have someone designated to be there for officers and staff that are struggling on the front lines will give many a new avenue to seek help from someone they can identify with. I am looking forward to seeing what a difference these Community Correctional Officer Chaplains will make in the months and years ahead.”
Ken Skidmore stated, “I was very pleased and excited to be able to participate in the training of the inaugural class of Correctional Officer Chaplain/Spiritual Counselors. I have been doing assistance work with employees for over 10 years and always felt that a large segment of our workforce, namely men and women in uniform, were not always getting the help they needed. We know that when people experience problems in their personal lives those problems rarely fit into a single category, there is a lot of overlapping. One area that has been lacking is a resource in the area of spirituality. Employee Assistance is still available to all employees and family members.”
Director Jones has mentioned in the past that he believes individuals are responding to a calling when they chose corrections as a vocation. This program focuses on our fellow employee, addressing their needs in good times and bad times. It is hoped the services that are provided to our fellow employees will result in a more productive, efficient and healthier (physically, mentally and spiritually) employee.
The Chaplains and Spiritual Counselor’s were told to go forward in the fields and do good works for your fellow correctional officers and other employees.
Health Fairs are an effective way to provide valuable health information
and screening services to large numbers of people using a convenient venue.
Program content, prevention and treatment information and screening services
are often provided to stimulate healthy behaviors and reinforce individuals
that already practice healthy behaviors.
On May 1, 2009 approximately 900 offenders from Dr. Eddie Warrior and Jess Dunn Correctional Centers received a snapshot of health and other community based and prison reentry program information. The health and reentry health fair model is based on three assumptions: 1) prison time is an opportune time to establish relationships with offenders who will require support and guidance when they return to community, 2) offenders may have unmet health care, education and supportive services needs upon release from prison, and 3) former offenders need an advocate to help them become employees in our community.
To accommodate health fair vendors and other DOC employees, tables were set up in the gym and visitation areas exhibiting heart and stroke prevention detection information. Additional tables included information about, job placement, DOC’s wrap around and entrepreneurial programs, informative materials on health care, health screenings, dental prevention and disease; and healthy food samples were offered. Professionals from local community-based groups such as hospitals and family and children’s services, alcohol and drug aftercare counseling and support services, housing and educational opportunities were available and providers answered questions and provided direction.
Representatives from The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Department of Human Services were present and offered information and counseling about STD’s/HIV, disability and food stamps. Peer educators provided pamphlets on the prevention of prison rape and the American Cancer Society provided a presentation on prevention and early detection. Approximately 5,000 handouts were distributed. However, active-oriented health and reentry fairs inspire a learning perspective more than a passive looking, reading and seeing fair. Therefore, offenders had an opportunity to participate in drum-circles to express rhythm and prison cooperation and to learn about music from a diverse culture. Essentially, the fairs promoted health and reentry awareness and provided the metaphor of music to build unity and the opportunity to embrace differences. Funding for the fairs was made possible through the Washington DC based, Tulsa Americorps team.
May 4 through May 10, 2009 was Public Service Recognition Week in the State
of Oklahoma. The Treatment & Rehabilitative Services Division has made
it a yearly event to recognize its employees by having a meeting and training
event during this week. On May 6 we met at the Metro Tech in Oklahoma City
and were treated to presentations by a representative from the Oklahoma Employees
Credit Union, author Tom Pace and Lt. Governor Jari Askins followed by an
Our day started with a welcome from Deputy Director Debbie Mahaffey followed by opening remarks from Director Justin Jones. Sean Ridenour from the Oklahoma Employees Credit Union talked to us about the benefits offered by the credit union and the benefit the credit union has been to him both personally and professionally. The credit union donated small spiral notebooks and pens for goodie bags given to each divisional employee as well as two (2) $50 Shell gift cards for door prizes.
Tom Pace, author of “The Mentor, the Kid and the CEO” and CEO of PaceButler Corporation, talked about the importance of mentoring especially in our institutions. He conveyed the importance of setting priorities in our lives and demonstrated that by having his assistant try to add several large rocks to a bucket already filled with sand. He couldn’t do it. Next he put the rocks in the bucket first, which demonstrates the important things in our lives, and then poured in the sand, which represents the small things or less important things. The sand filled in all the spaces around the rocks representing the less important things in our life falling into place after we set our priorities. Mr. Pace very generously donated a copy of his book for each divisional employee.
Lt. Governor Askins spoke about her career in public service which includes being a judge, working for the Pardon and Parole Board, being a Legislator and now Lieutenant Governor. She understands the plight of corrections and would like to see legislation for more opportunities outside corrections, such as drug court, mental health court and other alternative sentences which would perhaps offer more treatment and less incarceration. She recognizes the hard job we, as corrections employees, have and encouraged us to continue to communicate with our legislators about issues that impact the department. She closed by thanking us for the jobs we do as public servants.
Following lunch we participated in a “Who I Am Makes A Difference” presentation. In 1980, at the age of 38, Helice “Sparky” Bridges of San Diego, California, discovered that people were literally starving for recognition. Helice had this dream and dedicated her life to finding a way for all people to feel appreciated, respected and loved so that they would know that who they are makes a difference and she created a “Who I Am Makes A Difference” acknowledgement process. She originally purchased 1000 “Who I Am Makes A Difference” buttons and began honoring people everywhere. She trained a handful of youth and adults and within less than two weeks 1000 people were honored.
By 1983, Helice founded Difference Makers International uniting people to make a difference. She changed the buttons to blue ribbons with the words “Who I Am Makes A Difference” stamped in gold. With the help of a dozen teens, parents, grandparents and business people, over 35,000 people were honored within the first three months. People told stories of how the Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement healed broken marriages, stopped fights, increased grades and raised self-esteem.
In 1988, a teacher in New York honored every one of her high school students by placing a Blue Ribbon above their hearts. Then she invited her students to start a class project by honoring people throughout their community. Students honored their friends, family members, teachers – everyone. One of these Blue Ribbons actually saved a 14 year-old boy from committing suicide.
We watched a video about the Blue Ribbon project and Ms. Mahaffey recognized all the divisional employees telling us we each make a difference every day, whether it’s at our job, at home, or in our community. A representative at each table, on Ms. Mahaffey’s behalf, presented a blue ribbon to each staff member at the table. A blue ribbon was placed above our heart and pointed slightly upward toward all our dreams coming true. Inside the globe on the ribbon are cheerleaders, cheering us on for our dreams. Ms Mahaffey asked each person to remember that she is one of our cheerleaders. Staff was also given two additional ribbons to pass on others, honoring them for making a difference and encouraging them to make their dreams come true. Always remember, Who You Are Makes A Difference!!!