The appropriateness of having a national week of recognition for correctional
officer is obvious. It is also obvious that all correctional employees should
receive constant recognition for committing their life to such a challenging,
rewarding and yet difficult profession.
The general public sees those in uniform (correctional officers) as just being in a security position and/or role. In fact, they do much more than security. In our business, leading by example, communication skills, applying common sense, supportive counseling, and providing an array of assistance is all part of an officer’s job that enhances the professionalism of the uniform.
Of course, all DOC employees are one team. We all pitch in and help and assist when necessary, which is on a daily basis. With a national recession and having exhausted all budget balancing options; furloughs now make team efforts even more critical.
It is also critical that our elected officials/policy makers understand that we are doing our part in response to legislative mandated reductions. Furloughs are a part of our response; however they have a responsibility to fund net offender growth and previous unfunded mandates which would enable furloughs to stop after February 2011. So in recognition of our correctional officers, let’s also ensure that the public and policy makers also have an opportunity to better understand the critical role we play in public safety.
Please join the Division of Institutions staff in welcoming Mike Murry as
the chief of security at Jess Dunn Correctional Center, effective April 29,
Mr. Murry began his career with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in 1989 at Jess Dunn Correctional Center (JDCC) as a correctional officer cadet. While at JDCC he promoted to Correctional Security Officer I, Correctional Security Officer IV, and Counselor. In April 1996 he promoted to Correctional Security Manager I at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center and in September 1999 to Chief of Security. In October 2006 Mr. Murry promoted to deputy warden at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.
Mr. Murry received his bachelor degree in Organizational Leadership from Southern Nazarene University in 2006.
Please join the Division of Institutions staff in welcoming Mike Shelite
as chief of security at Howard McLeod Correctional Center. Mr. Shelite assumed
his new role on March 19, 2010.
Mr. Shelite began his career with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in March 1989 as a correctional officer cadet at James Crabtree Correctional Center (JCCC), and later promoted to Correctional Security Officer II and Correctional Security Officer III. He had a break in service from June 1991-January 1996. During this time he worked as a deputy sheriff and drug task force agent for the Alfalfa County Sheriff’s Department. Mr. Shelite returned to JCCC in January 1996 as a sergeant and promoted to lieutenant in December 2004. In addition, he served as the CERT commander.
Mr. Shelite is a member of the DOC Honor Guard and served as the assistant commander. He was the 2008 Agency Correctional Supervisor of the Year.
Mr. Shelite graduated from Mid-America Christian University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Management and Ethics.
Theresa Tipton, Correctional Security Officer IV at Eddie Warrior Correctional
Center, Female Offender Operations, Field Operations Division is the 2009
Agency Correctional Officer of the Year.
Sergeant Tipton began her career in 1994. She is a valued member of the Hostage Negotiation Team. In January 2009 her team participated in the Hostage Negotiation Competition in San Marcos, Texas where they received first place. Since Sergeant Tipton is bilingual, she also assists as interpreter for parole hearings and other areas when needed. She sets an example for others by always being willing to assist with duties outside the scope of those assigned to her. Sergeant Tipton is a respected leader known for her high level of calm demeanor and professionalism.
2009 Correctional Officers of the Year:
2009 Agency Correctional Officer Supervisor of the Year.
Virgil W. Young, Correctional Security Manager I, Oklahoma State Penitentiary,
Field Operations Division, is the 2009 Agency Correctional Officer Supervisor
of the Year.
Captain Young began his career with the agency in 1995. Captain Young has attended the Center for Correctional Officer Studies, Law Enforcement Driver Training, C.L.E.E.T. Certification, Gang Information Training and Leadership Training. Captain Young has coordinated several fund raising events for the facility. During his 14 years with the agency, Captain Young has earned the respect of the officers he supervises by being a strong leader who is always willing to work alongside his officers on any task.
He has assisted Pittsburg County Jail during the two riots that occurred in their facility. In his off hours, Captain Young serves as a youth minister at his church in Krebs, Oklahoma.
2009 Correctional Officer Supervisors of the Year:
Amanda Lynch, health information technician at Jess Dunn Correctional Center,
was awarded the Department of Corrections’ Making the Difference Award
from the Division of Treatment and Rehabilitative Services.
In September 2009 the Department of Corrections implemented the electronic health record system where all medical, dental and mental health records of offenders is entered electronically into the agency’s medical computer system. Lynch received her training from the MedUnison organization and immediately began traveling to various faciities to train medical personnel throughout the state. To date, Lynch has trained more than 260 employees at 10 correctional institutions. It is anticipated that the system will be operational at all state owned correctional facilities in July. Lynch will also train medical employees at privately owned correctional facilities throughout the state who house Oklahoma offenders.
Lynch has been employed with the Department of Corrections since January 2008.
On March 16, 2010 Jeff Weber and Sonja Fagre, Criminal Justice Instructors
from Iowa Lakes Community College, along with ten students toured the Lexington
Assessment and Reception Center.
Each year Mr. Weber takes his class on an educational field trip; this year’s trip consisted of touring LARC, along with spending a day with the Oklahoma City Police Department. The purpose of the trip is to give the students a better understanding law enforcement and corrections.
The Habilitation Center Program (HCP) at JHCC is a beehive of activity these
days. Offenders are making handmade patchwork quilts and crocheting hats
and scarves for the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City. What a big change
this is for these men. Previous to incarceration, many of these same individuals
lived at various homeless shelters in their respective communities. Now they
are reaching out and helping others in need.
The HCP was founded in 1995. This program addresses the special needs of developmentally delayed offenders who have been sentenced to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Most of the developmentally delayed offenders in this program also have co-occurring mental health disorders. Currently there are 73 offenders enrolled in the program as participants.
Programs at HCP are customized to meet the special needs of these men. Most of the programs address their criminal behavior, such as substance abuse or pro-social decision making, or are designed to improve their academic skills. However, considerable time is also spent in helping them and/or improving their vocational competence. In the world outside of prison, many of these men would be participants in a “sheltered workshop” setting. In a sheltered workshop, developmentally delayed individuals work with job coaches and occupational therapists. They report to work each day and work a limited number of hours. Not only is the sheltered workshop a job; it is a vehicle for increasing self esteem and a sense of accomplishment.
While incarcerated, developmentally delayed individuals may have difficulty finding employment through one of the more traditional prison job assignments. The HCP and unit staff are often hard pressed to find them jobs they have the skills to do. At times, their jobs often appear to be “made-up” work. It was out of this need to develop vocational skills that the present program to help the homeless was born.
During the summer of 2007, Dr. Mark Englander, HCP Director saw a story on television concerning the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City. He visited the mission and talked with staff. They indicated there was always a shortage of blankets and cold weather gear was always in demand. Dr. Englander came up with the great idea that HCP offenders could make blankets and crochet hats and scarves. He ran the idea by Paul Daugherty, HCP Recreational Therapist and they discussed how they could proceed using the building resources HCP currently has. Now that a project had been decided on, HCP staff had to decide how to obtain materials needed without spending the money! Always a challenge, but not necessarily an insurmountable one if one is determined enough!
I visited with the staff of Habitat for Humanity in Stillwater and told them what was proposed. Habitat for Humanity began to donate materials. There were several offenders from the general population who had worked in the tailoring field prior to coming to prison and volunteered to teach offenders how to make the blankets and put them together. I was also able to purchase yarn cheaply from Habitat for Humanity the offenders could use to crochet. Again, offenders stepped forward and agreed to teach the HCP participants how to crochet.
The result? As of this writing, HCP has donated five hand-stitched quilts and dozens of hats, scarves, crocheted purses, gloves, and teddy bears to the City Rescue Mission and to children’s hospitals in the Oklahoma City area. The offenders are learning to report to work, create a finished product, and to help others. Self-esteem is greatly improved as a nice by-product. The cost to DOC? Absolutely nothing. The benefits to the offenders and the folks at the City Rescue Mission? Priceless!
At its most basic level, the Torch Run is an actual running event in which
officers and athletes run the “Flame of Hope” to the Opening
Ceremonies of local Special Olympic competitions, State Games, and National
Summer or Winter Games. Each year, hundreds of Oklahoma law enforcement employees
organize and participate in the Torch Run for Special Olympics. Runners carry
the Torch from all corners of the state and meet up in Stillwater. The culmination
of the run is at the Summer Games Opening Ceremonies, where the torchbearers
bring the “Flame of Hope” into the ceremonies to light the Summer
Games cauldron. Torch Runs are also carried out on an international level.
Every two years, Oklahoma sends a delegate to run in the Final Leg of the
Special Olympics World Games. Our delegate joins runners from each of the
50 states and from 27 countries. I was fortunate enough to participate in
the 2007 World Games held in Shanghai. In 2009, the World Games were held
in Idaho. The World Games in 2011 are scheduled to be held in Athens, Greece.
JHCC raised over $10,000 for Special Olympics in 2009 through a variety of LETR fundraisers such as cinnamon roll sales, merchandise sales, Polar Plunge, Poker Run and Golf Tournament. Oklahoma LETR raised over $200,000. Internationally, LETR raised 34.3 million U.S. dollars in 2009! For Lt. Damon Wilbur, Mindie Mask (Lawton Correctional Facility) and I, the pinnacle of this year was attendance at the Annual International LETR Conference hosted by Connecticut LETR. This year’s theme was “A Global Movement for Special Olympics.” Conference attendees came from such exotic and faraway places as Australia, Turkey, Chinese Taipei, Poland, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, Canada, and Northern Ireland.
Opening Ceremonies is always motivational, educational and inspirational. No speaker was more powerful than the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver herself as she spoke to the attendees through a serious of video clips taken from her most famous speeches over the years. Mrs. Shriver spoke of her dream, praised the heroes, and set the tone to fight the fight in order to overcome harmful attitudes toward those with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Timothy Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics reminisced about his late mother. He shared with the group the law enforcement personnel’s task of carrying the “Flame of Hope” while escorting his mother to her final resting place and of the athlete’s medallions lain on her casket by the athletes themselves.
An always fun part of the conference is the t-shirt exchange. This trading frenzy includes the exchanging of ball caps, patches, polar plunge beach towels, lapel pins, etc. Anything that a Torch Run or Special Olympic program wants to bring to swap with international participants is acceptable. I managed to retrieve a Peru Torch Run shirt! How cool is that?! Most of the traded merchandise conference attendees receive is later used for door prizes in events held throughout the year.
A reliable money raising event at each conference is the Live and Silent auction. Many sports-related memorabilia were available to bid on from professional teams in the area such as the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. Oklahoma, of course, being the generous people we are, donated items such as a Sam Bradford autographed helmet and a Barry Switzer autographed football. Several of the Special Olympic athletes made items to donate, including paintings and hand made quilts.
The grand finale of the conference is always the Richard LaMunyon Hall of Fame Banquet. At that time, volunteers are recognized who have demonstrated a sustained and significant contribution to the Torch Run and Special Olympics. Susan Saint James was one of the speakers. Remember “McMillan and Wife” or “Kate and Allie?” Our 30 and younger delegates did not. Most were however familiar with ESPN anchorman Kenny Mayne. Mr. Mayne provided comic relief during his portion of the program.
At the evening’s closing ceremony with great dignity and respect, the “Flame of Hope” was passed from Connecticut officers to Southern California officers. With the torch passed, literally and figuratively, I and others have pledged to carry on and strengthen our resolve in support of our Special Olympics athletes. With the end of another conference, new friends have been made and other law enforcement connections have been made. I am looking forward to what Long Beach, California has to offer in 2010!
In one sense, Jackie Brannon Correctional Center (JBCC) was the third state
correctional center, originally opening in 1927. But it operated as a trusty
unit of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, on OSP grounds, until being officially
established as a stand-alone minimum security institution on July 1, 1985.
The facility is named in honor of Jackie Brannon, who began his correctional career in 1961 as a correctional officer at OSP. In 1981, he was promoted to Deputy Warden of the OSP Trusty Unit, in which capacity he served until his death in 1984. It is this same trusty unit, since expanded, that bears his name.
James Crabtree Correctional Center (JCCC) held its third annual fishing day with 23 residents and 17 staff members from the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid (NORCE), a residential and habilitative facility, also classified as an intermediate care facility for persons with developmental disabilities.
After a hot dog lunch at the OCI Farm Headquarters, everyone loaded up for
an old fashioned hay rack ride out to the state-owned water shed north of
the facility. There were plenty of fishing poles and nearly perfect weather.
We managed to catch big fish, not so big fish, and a couple of turtles. All
in all everyone had a good time!!
The Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, maintained by the Oklahoma Department
of Corrections, provides public information on sex offenders required to
register pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act, 57 O.S. 581-590.2.
The Act applies to any person residing, working, or attending school within
the state who has been convicted or received any probationary term for a
sex crime in the state after November 1, 1989, or has entered the state after
November 1, 1989, having previously been convicted or received any probationary
term for a sex crime. The registry was a closed record available only to
law enforcement from November 1, 1989 until November 1, 1999, when the statute
was amended making it a public record. The Department is responsible for
all data entry and maintenance of the statewide registry and makes the registry
available to the public and other government entities through the agency
The sex offender registry is a live database of approximately 6500 active offenders that is updated by the hour; making it one the most up-to-date and current registries in the nation.
The Sex Offenders Registration Act has been amended in some fashion every year since 1997, with a total of thirty-four amendments to the Act since November 1, 1989. The amendments compound the complexity of maintaining a statewide registry and result in continual change to administrative practices, procedures, and training. Significant changes have occurred in the registration of sex offenders in Oklahoma and nationally since the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 amendment to federal sex offender registration laws. The goal of the Adam Walsh Act is to provide a framework for all states to follow in order to have a consistent nationwide approach to registration. Just a few of the changes in Oklahoma as a result of the Adam Walsh Act are that offenders are assigned to a high, moderate, or low risk level based on the severity of their sex offense, registration time periods have been lengthened for many offenders, the frequency of address verification time frames have increased for most offenders, and more data is collected about sex offenders such as internet identifiers and addresses, passport and licensing information, vehicle, and employer information.
An example of the impact is with the address verification process. Oklahoma and federal law require that level one sex offenders verify their address annually, level two sex offenders semiannually, and level three, habitual, and aggravated sex offenders every 90 days. 83% of Oklahoma’s registered sex offenders must verify their address every 90 days for their lifetime. The Sex and Violent Crime Offender Registry unit conducts address verifications in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies. The unit mails a nonforwardable letter to the offender who must take the letter in person to their local law enforcement agency. The local agency verifies the address and returns the letter to the Department. The result is an accurate address at both the local and statewide levels. Addresses that cannot be verified result in violation letters sent to the local district attorney and law enforcement agency. The Sex and Violent Crime Offender Registry unit will prepare and mail approximately 22,000 address verification letters this year. Absent an expensive and extensive computerized system at each police department and sheriff’s office in the state, and connected to the statewide registry maintained by the Department of Corrections, this system is an efficient and cost effective method for address verification.
Proof of the effectiveness of the system is found in the number of delinquent sex offenders in Oklahoma. A delinquent offender is one who has not complied with the law by verifying their address with their local law enforcement agency and with the Department. Oklahoma’s compliance rate averages 88%; meaning that 12% of the registered offenders fail to keep their address current. The national compliance rate, while difficult to determine due to the varied state laws and methods for identifying delinquent status, is generally considered to be approximately 75%. This is an impressive accomplishment by the Sex and Violent Crime Offender Registry unit. The unit works diligently to maintain positive contact with local law enforcement and the general public, and enjoys good working relationships with law enforcement in the state from the smallest police department to the United States Marshal’s Service. The resulting communication and sharing of accurate and timely information is essential to the success of the registry and a big part of our ability to maintain a higher compliance rate than the national average.
Our success has not gone unnoticed outside of Oklahoma. In October 2009, the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted an audit of the agency’s compliance with the National Crime Information Center and CJIS policy and procedure regarding the entry of sex offender data into the National Sex Offender Registry File. We were the first state to be audited under the new audit guidelines. While the CJIS audit team found a few minor deficiencies, their feedback during the audit and since has been very positive. The CJIS audit team remains in contact with the Sex and Violent Crime Offender Registry unit as they audit other states. Their advice to other states is to model Oklahoma’s registration process. In a phone call to Mr. Gene Thaxton, Director of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, the auditors stated that they were “blown away” by the job Oklahoma is doing.
In December 2009, James Byrne, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of Massachusetts – Lowell, and Ingrid Norris, Administrative Analyst, Center for Identity Management and Information Protection of Utica College, New York, spent a day with sex offender registration staff as a part of the Sex Offender Authentication Project. The project is funded through the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, Edward Byrne Memorial Discretionary Grants Program for Congressionally Mandated Awards. The site visit was a part of their national study of the missing sex offender problem and Oklahoma was one of eight states selected for participation in the project. During the site visit, they interviewed our staff and representatives from the US Marshal’s Service, Oklahoma City Police Department and Edmond Police Department. The interviews were designed to better understand the nature and extent of the missing sex offender problem and to gain Oklahoma’s perspective on “best practices” in the registration, monitoring, and apprehension of sex offenders. We were selected in part because of our good reputation and our willingness to participate in studies that improve sex registration practices nationwide.
The Sex and Violent Offender Registration Unit works hard to provide local law enforcement and the general public with current and accurate sex offender registration information and are to be congratulated for the good job they do. The registry unit staff is Lawana Hamrick, Coordinator, Bonnie Yarbrough, and Casey Pebley.
Since the Sex and Violent Offender Registry maintained by the Department
of Corrections receives an incredible amount of attention from the public
and the media, you should know something about the people who do the work.
Lawanna Hamrick is the Sex Offender Registration Coordinator, a position
she has held since April 2005. Bonnie Yarbrough has worked in the unit since
2003 and Casey Pebley has worked in the unit since May 2008.
Lawanna was born in California but grew up in Farris, Oklahoma. She began her career with the Department in September, 1982 at Howard McLeod Correctional Center as a clerk in the library. She promoted to typist clerk in 1983 and worked in records. In 1985 she promoted to Law Library Clerk, in 1987 she promoted to Correctional Counselor and in 1988 she promoted to Case Manager. She transferred to Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in May 1995 as a Senior Case Manager and then promoted to Records Officer in January 1996. In December, 2000 she promoted to Classification Auditor and held that position until promoting to the Sex Offender Registry Unit as Coordinator. In addition to her duties as coordinator she provides sex offender registration training through CLEET to law enforcement officers from around the state.
Lawanna attributes a big part of the success of the Sex Offender Registration unit to the efforts of her coworkers. Bonnie Yarbrough began her state employment in 1983 with the Pardon and Parole Board. In 2003 she joined the Sex Offender Registration Unit.
Casey Pebley began her career with the DOC in December, 2002 at Oklahoma State Reformatory. She has worked at the Altus Work Center, Hillside Community Correctional Center and Kate Barnard Community Correctional Center before joining the Sex Offender Registration Unit in May, 2008.
The unit has developed a very good working relationship with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies most notably with the U.S. Marshal Service in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act. Through their hard work and dedication, the unit has been named in the top five in the nation in registries. When you get the chance you should thank them for a job well done.
Several facilities have recently held volunteer recognition events or are
planning events for later this year. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (EWCC)
and Jess Dunn Correctional Center (JDCC) hosted their annual Volunteer Appreciation
Event on Thursday, May 20, 2010. The dinner and program were held in the
new EWCC Religious Programs Building, which was built this past year through
volunteer led efforts at no cost to the agency.
The evening featured a dinner paid for by the EWCC Christian Women’s Association and the JDCC Christian Men’s Association offender organizations. EWCC Chaplain Kathryn McCollum and JDCC Chaplain James Remer hosted the program that was highlighted by music and drama by the offenders at EWCC. Agency Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator Leo Brown was the keynote speaker and Warden Mike Mullin as well as Case Manager Supervisor Sharron Warrior added words of appreciation for the contributions volunteers have made to their facilities over the past year. Many door prizes, which were either made by offenders or donated by local businesses, were given away.
Several volunteers were honored during the evening. Melissa Barrett was recognized as EWCC Volunteer of the Year, Bill Hulett was recognized as JDCC Volunteer of the Year and New Life Behavior by the Fort Gibson Church of Christ was named Program of the Year by both facilities.
Prior to her passing, Barbara Green served tirelessly as a Department of
Corrections volunteer for more than 26 years. For Barbara, the 2009 DOC Volunteer
of the Year, what began as a correspondence ministry quickly grew into a
life of service behind bars that included bible studies, offering Prison
Fellowship seminars, helping with Mabel Bassett Correctional Center’s
(MBCC) Children and Mothers Program (CAMP), facilitating programs such as
Thinking for a Change and Homes of Honor and serving as a Volunteer Chaplain.
James Martin, the 2009 Community Corrections nominee for Volunteer of the Year has, for well over a decade, provided programs at three separate facilities, twice each week at each facility. His desire to serve is so great that when his car is in the shop he takes a cab to the facility just to make sure the offenders are able to complete their program on time. He also facilitates Thinking for a Change as well as provides transportation for offenders to funerals, helps them get their ID or social security card and transports them to job interviews when needed.
These are just two of the thousands of volunteers that are making a difference every day within the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. On any given day literally hundreds of volunteers are coming to our prisons or picking up offenders from our community centers to provide programs and services that offer opportunities for rehabilitation. The volunteers are as diverse as the programs or services they provide. Among our volunteers you will find everything from law enforcement personnel to ex-offenders, former drug addicts to pastors or teachers, victims of crime to those convicted of the most serious offenses, PHDs to those working to get their GED, the very wealthy to the very poor, all giving of themselves for one purpose – to make a difference.
In 2009 volunteers contributed over 151,186 hours of service with an estimated monetary value of $2,559,578. While these figures are impressive, what is more important is the impact our volunteers have on the offenders, their families and our facilities. The majority of our volunteers come from some type of faith-based organization. Many lead religious services – worship services, ceremonies or religious studies – that not only help us meet our legal mandate to accommodate the offenders right to religious freedom while incarcerated but also bring a positive message of hope for a new life. Others lead faith-based programs, such as New Life Behavior, Celebrate Recovery, AA or NA that help offenders address criminogenic needs from a faith perspective.
Volunteers are branching out into new areas of service as well. Many of these volunteers from faith-based organizations are now offering non-faith based programs that are needed in our facilities. More and more volunteers are facilitating programs such as Thinking for a Change, PREP (our primary marriage and family relationship skill building program) or Inside/Out Dads. In addition, many other programs, such as the CAMP program at MBCC or Play Day at EWCC would be impossible without the work of our volunteers.
VOLUNTEERS AND REENTRY:
Another growing area of volunteer involvement is offender reentry. Volunteers, working with programs that the DOC has approved as Volunteer Transition/Reentry Programs, are helping offenders successfully transition back into society. A couple of years ago a revision was made to OP-090211, “Volunteer Services” that granted volunteers, who were working as part of a transition program, an exception to the restriction on contact with offenders for six months after their release. The program has to be reviewed by the agency to verify that it has certain basic elements, such as accountability for both the ex-offender and the volunteers, transition plans for the ex-offenders and behavioral expectations. Once the program is approved all volunteers that serve as part of that program are recognized as transition/reentry volunteers and granted the exception. The transitional/reentry programs that have already been approved include Redemption Church, Genesis One and Fitting Back In. Through programs such as these, volunteers are bridging the gap and helping offenders successfully make the often difficult transition back into society.
VOLUNTEERS AND THE BUDGET CRISIS:
As the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, along with other state agencies, deals with budget cuts and the resulting impact on programs and personnel, we are exploring new ways to partner with our volunteers to meet the challenges. In addition to helping fill the gap left by numerous cuts to offender programs, the agency is currently looking at ways to connect volunteer resources within the community to the needs within the agency. Working with other state agencies, we are developing strategies to enhance volunteer service in occupational and professional areas.
MOTIVATION THAT ENDURES:
A survey a few years ago asked volunteers, “Why do you do what you do?” It is a good question that I am often asked. Why do so many people give their time and energy to serve in a difficult environment without pay? The answers to this survey revealed a lot about our volunteers. Some said they did it because it was something God had called them to do; others felt they needed to give back due to the blessings or help they had received. Some indicated that they had personally been impacted by someone going to prison, saw the need and believed they had to respond. Among all the various answers we received there was an overriding theme – they want to make a difference. And that is exactly what our volunteers are doing every day – making a difference in the lives of offenders, their families, our facilities and in our society.