|Corrections Professionals Make a Difference|
|By Robert Lampert, Director Wyoming Department of Corrections|
As individuals and communities, we often remember to thank those public servants, such as police, fire fighters, EMT’s and military service men and women, who keep us safe. But, there is another group of public servants, who play a critical role in our day to day safety, that receive little or no daily recognition: corrections professionals.
May 6-10 will be observed in Wyoming as Correctional Professionals’ Week. I hope you will join me in recognizing these hard working professionals who do an extremely difficult job very well.
Corrections employees have provided for the safety of Wyoming families and individuals for 138 years under various agency names and, for the past 22 years, as the Wyoming Department of Corrections. As this agency has evolved, so have its staff and the expectations of them. Employees, once considered in the aggregate as “guards”, now do much more than guard prisoners and, as such, are truly deserving of recognition as corrections professionals. So please don’t call them “guards”.
Today’s corrections staff are well-trained highly-skilled corrections professionals. They effectively manage offenders and community risk, while giving each offender access to the opportunities necessary to become effective, law-abiding citizens upon their transition back into our communities.
In addition to operating five adult correctional facilities, Wyoming Department of Corrections employees provide risk-appropriate levels of community supervision to those offenders who are under probation and parole, or housed within adult community corrections centers in Cheyenne, Gillette and Casper.
These employees continue to strive to make the Wyoming Department of Corrections a benchmark correctional agency. Recent efforts to further professionalize the services offered to Wyoming citizens are illustrated by the drive to achieve accreditation of our facilities by the American Correctional Association, beginning with the audits completed just this past month at the facilities in Newcastle and Lusk. Accreditation verifies agency compliance with nationally recognized standards for the effective and professional operation of correctional facilities throughout the United States and Wyoming’s corrections professionals are committed to reaching that goal.
Despite the inherent risks of the profession, these unsung heroes dedicate their lives to serving crime victims and to ensuring the safety of our communities through the incarceration and supervision process. They do so by role-modeling socially acceptable behavior to the offenders they supervise, by reinforcing the positive pro-social behaviors displayed by those offenders seeking change, and by redirecting inappropriate behavior in continuously holding each offender accountable for his/her own actions as they occur.
The challenges faced by correctional staff members are tremendous, yet these dedicated professionals continue to make a difference in the lives of others. Incarceration, or community supervision, is the punishment imposed on offenders for the wrongs they have committed against victims, families, friends, and our communities. “Corrections” is the process that occurs as a result of the supervision, professional concern, and unselfish commitment of our state’s corrections professionals.
That’s the impact our professionals have. Our staff makes a difference not by punishing, but rather through accountability, mentoring, interventions, rewards and sanctions, treatment, partnerships with other agencies and community groups, and by assisting offenders in their efforts towards leading a law-abiding lifestyle through best-practice approaches to programming and treatment. All of this is done in an effort to ensure the highest level of public safety.
Today’s correctional employees are highly trained professionals who constantly acquire knowledge of what motivates offenders and apply that knowledge in the most effective way possible. The work they do has become multifaceted – their work goes beyond supervision and surveillance of offenders – and is therefore deserving of the designation as a respected profession.
During their week of special recognition on May 6-10 and throughout the year, we should honor and respect the work these professionals do for us each and every day of the year.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT