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Melinda Bozarth named to TDCJ General Counsel position

portrait of Melinda Bozarth
Melinda Bozarth
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston in April announced the appointment of TDCJ divisional deputy director and former assistant attorney general Melinda Bozarth as the agency’s General Counsel. She replaces Carl Reynolds who left the agency for a position at the Office of Court Administration.

Bozarth joined the Texas Office of the Attorney General in July 1985, working primarily in the areas of civil rights and corrections litigation, including the Ruiz prison conditions class action suit. She joined TDCJ’s Parole Division in June 1992 as director of its Community Services section and subsequently served three years as director of the division. In July 1997, Bozarth moved to TDCJ’s former Programs and Services Division as an assistant director responsible for such areas as victim services, immigration, federal legislation and special projects. She was promoted to deputy director of the division that is now known as the Rehabilitation and Reentry Programs Division in June 2002, assisting in managing the division’s operations and providing direction and guidance in strategic operations and planning.

Bozarth earned a bachelor’s degree in correctional administration from Kansas State University in May 1977 and a law degree from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in December 1982. While in law school, she served as executive director of the Topeka Halfway House and joined the then-Texas Department of Corrections in June 1983 as a staff attorney in the office of Staff Counsel for Inmates.

“My experience has given me a unique opportunity to see the criminal justice system from many angles,” Bozarth said. “I look forward to serving TDCJ and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice in this new capacity.”

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American Corrections Association names Texas parole director "Best in Business"

TDCJ Parole Division Director Bryan Collier has been named the “Best in the Business” by the American Corrections Association (ACA). The international organization annually recognizes outstanding performers in the criminal justice field from among candidates nominated by corrections professionals from all over the globe. Collier was honored for his innovative leadership of one of the largest parole systems in the world.
“This recognition is a great honor,” Collier said. “I believe this acknowledgement is due, in large part, to the fact that I work for the best in the business – the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.”

Collier, 40, is one of several criminal justice professionals from across the country that is being featured in the June issue of ACA’s Corrections Today magazine. An East Texas native, Collier joined TDCJ as a clerk in 1985 and then became a correctional officer following his graduation from Sam Houston State University in 1986. He became interested in the parole aspect of corrections and after advancing through progressively more responsible assignments he was named director of TDCJ’s Parole Division in January 2002.
The task of supervising more than 77,000 offenders, 67 parole offices and 2,478 employees would be a challenge to most people, but Collier finds it “interesting and fun.”

“My position enables me to spend time with parole officers to get a first hand feel of what’s going on out there, and also allows me to initiate activities that I believe will make offender supervision more effective,” Collier said.

Among the concepts Collier has implemented since taking the reigns of the parole division is implementation of a random visit protocol for sex offenders that might find a parole officer knocking on the offenders door at any time of day, including weekends and holidays.

Collier has also implemented a program of one-on-one meetings with offenders who have been released under supervision for a few months. The objective, he says, is to “concentrate on the offenders true needs, which can dictate the success of that offender’s reintegration into society.”

While pleased with the progress of his division, Collier acknowledges that some areas of his job are difficult - for example, retaining parole officers.

“Being a parole officer is a difficult job,” he said. “You get at least 75 cases assigned to you and each case has a different set of issues. Sudden job vacancies can cause added case load due as those cases are divided among remaining officers, straining an already stressful environment.”

Co-workers describe Collier as an astute employee with a high ethical standard. “Mr. Collier’s reputation as a criminal justice professional, along with his honesty and integrity, serve this agency well,” said TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston. “We couldn’t ask for a more knowledgeable, supportive and engaged Parole Division director.”

“It has been, and continues to be, a great privilege to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” Collier said.

Collier, wife LaDonna, and their three children make their home in the Austin area.

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