|Correctional Professionals Week Op-Ed|
|By Bob Lampert, Director Wyoming Department of Corrections|
On May 4-10, Wyoming and the rest of the nation will celebrate Correctional Professionals Week in recognition of a group of public servants who work quietly behind the scenes to insure our communities are safer. These individuals work at what has often been referred to as “The toughest beat in the state.” They interact with people on a daily basis who are either seen as currently too dangerous to live in our communities, or must pay their debt to society by living within our communities in a more restricted way under varying levels of correctional supervision.
By mid-year of 2017, Wyoming is projected to have over 2,400 people confined in our prisons and over 6,500 on supervision, some in every community within our state. In addition, there will be several hundred more in local jails. Roughly speaking, that means 1 out of every 62 Wyomingites will either be in jail or prison, or on probation and parole. Upon completion of their sentence or while under supervision, those same individuals will be our neighbors. I think we all agree that we would like each of our neighbors to be successful and our communities to remain safe.
Correctional professionals help make that happen. In addition to contributing to public safety by exercising reasonable, safe, secure, and humane management of offenders, Wyoming Department of Corrections employees, contractors and other correctional service providers actively provide offenders opportunities to become law-abiding citizens. In brief, they do so by consistently utilizing effective evidence-informed correctional interventions.
As a result of those efforts, the success rate for former offenders in Wyoming is one of the best in the nation. Wyoming’s low recidivism rate (the rate of return to prison) is a tribute not only to those many offenders who have become law-abiding and contributing community members, but to the corrections professionals who helped give them the opportunities and skills necessary to do so.
The same hard working professionals who have done these extremely difficult jobs well for years, day in and day out, playing critical roles in helping keep Wyoming safe, will continue to be here for you in the future. That is what they do. Even though you might not realize it, correctional employees do far more than guard prisoners. So, please don’t call them “guards” - They truly deserve to be recognized as the corrections professionals they are.
Corrections.com author Robert Lampert is the Director of the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
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