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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
March/April 2017
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Two TDCJ employees earn
Governor’s Volunteer Service awards

Warden Jeffrey Catoe and Chaplain Debbie Dunn were honored for their work at the 22nd Annual Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards ceremony, held during the Texas Board of Criminal Justice meeting on April 6 in Austin.

Warden Catoe, a 27-year veteran with TDCJ, received the Criminal Justice Administrator of the Year award for his work as senior warden at the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony. He is recognized for his strong leadership and for being firm, fair and consistent in judgment. He and his staff provide critical support for rehabilitative and reentry programs, and Warden Catoe is well known for his welcoming attitude toward volunteers, who work in support of the unit's chaplaincy and education programs. The Correctional Institutions Division’s Region II Director Matt Barber praised the award selection, noting that "Warden Catoe is a leader who demonstrates integrity at all times personally and professionally. He exemplifies this every day and it is an honor and a privilege to serve with him."


Photo of TDCJ staff members Warden Jeffery Catoe and Chaplian Debbie Dunn accepting their Governor's Volunteer Services awards.

TDCJ staff members Warden Jeffery Catoe and Chaplain Debbie Dunn accept their Governor's Volunteer Service awards.

Chaplain Dunn, who was presented with the TDCJ Employee Volunteer award, began serving as a TDCJ volunteer in March 2006, and is now a chaplain at the Plane State Jail in Dayton where she serves as minister for staff, offenders and volunteers. She also travels extensively to minister at other TDCJ units across the state, and has been described by both staff and volunteers as courageous and encouraging, and as someone who always carries a message of hope. Director of Chaplaincy Operations Vance Drum commended Chaplain Dunn saying, "She is an example of the highest measure of servanthood and professionalism in her ministry. She cares about the offenders and the staff on her facility and we are thrilled that she was the recipient of this award."

First held in 1990, the Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards ceremony is an annual event held to recognize the men and women throughout the state who donate their time and effort to aid the victims of crime and help rehabilitate offenders so they can successfully reenter society.

In fiscal year 2016, more than 24,500 TDCJ volunteers provided over 390,000 hours of service.

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TDCJ Victim Services hosts
Victim Assistance Training Academy

Fifty victim services professionals from across the state participated in the Texas Victim Assistance Training (TVAT) Academy hosted in March by TDCJ's Victim Services Division. During the four-day event, guest speakers presented information on topics such as crime victim rights, victim services ethics, stress management and effective communication skills for those who work with crime victims.

The Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse, overseen by the Victim Services Division, was awarded a grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor to host the TVAT Academy. The Clearinghouse took advantage of this opportunity to collaborate with a variety of victim services experts and key stakeholders to determine the best training techniques for crime victim advocates and service providers.


Photo of Stephanie Martinez, Client Advocate with the Atascosa Family Crisis Center, attempts to navigate through the obstacles confronting a victim who has two children and is confined to a wheelchair.

Academy participants learn about difficulties endured by victims of domestic abuse. Here, Stephanie Martinez, client advocate with the Atascosa Family Crisis Center, attempts to navigate through the obstacles confronting a victim who has two children and is confined to a wheelchair.

Held at the Public Safety Operations and Training Center in Georgetown, the Academy was designed to provide entry-level victim assistance training for new victim services professionals and volunteers who routinely work with victims of crime and have less than three years' experience in the field.

The curriculum was based on the victims’ experience with the criminal justice system and focused on their needs and rights from the moment of victimization through the investigation, pre-trial, trial and the post-conviction phases. Victim Services Director Angie McCown explained, "The goal of the Academy was to make sure that when these individuals leave, they really understand what a victim experiences through all phases of the criminal justice process and have the tools and resources to make a difference in the community."

Additional topics covered include the influence of culture when working to support crime victims, as well as workplace ethics and resiliency when dealing with difficult situations. Another TVAT Academy is scheduled to take place in Georgetown during the first week of October.

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TDCJ staff attends National Crime Victims' Rights Week service

Representatives from TDCJ's Victim Services Division, along with other victim service organizations and supporters from throughout Central Texas, gathered at Austin’s Central Christian Church on April 6 to honor victims of crime and those who advocate on their behalf.


Photo of TDCJ Victim Services Program Specialist Carol Ellis and Children Advocacy Centers of Texas Program Administrator Lindsey Jordan reviewing the National Crime Victims' Rights Week event program.

TDCJ Victim Services Program Specialist Carol Ellis and Children Advocacy Centers of Texas Program Administrator Lindsey Jordan review the National Crime Victims' Rights Week event program.

Held in conjunction with the 2017 National Crime Victims' Rights Week, this event highlighted the courage demonstrated by crime victims and their families, as well as the dedication of their advocates as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system. The theme of this year's Victims’ Rights Week was "Strength. Resilience. Justice." and the keynote address was given by Andrea Sparks, director of the Governor's Child Sex Trafficking Team.

More information can be found in the Connections newsletter or by going to https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/ on the Web.

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image of employees in line climbing a ladder

Name From To
Chimdi Akwitti Major of Correctional Officers,
William P. Hobby/
Marlin Complex
Assistant Warden,
Alfred D. Hughes Unit
Jennifer Cozby Assistant Warden,
Preston E. Smith Unit
Senior Warden,
Ellen Halbert SAFPF
Whitney Franks Senior Warden,
Ellen Halbert SAFPF
Senior Warden,
Thomas Goree Unit
Richard Gunnels Senior Warden,
Thomas Goree Unit
Senior Warden,
Reverend C.A. Holliday
Transfer Facility
Robert Gutierrez Major of Correctional Officers,
Daniel Webster Wallace Unit
Assistant Warden,
Preston E. Smith Unit
Michael House Assistant Warden,
Daniel Webster Wallace Unit
Assistant Warden,
Price Daniel Unit
Michael James Program Supervisor V,
Security Operations
Assistant Warden,
Huntsville Unit
Billy Lewis Senior Warden,
Reverend C.A. Holliday
Transfer Facility
Senior Warden,
Eastham Unit
Paul Wilder Program Supervisor V,
Private Facility Contract Monitoring/Oversight Division
Assistant Warden,
Wallace Pack Unit

 

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Service Awards

 

Click here to download the Service Awards listing.

 

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Retirees

 

Click here to download the Retirees listing.


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Two TDCJ employees earn Governor's Volunteer Service awards

TDCJ Victim Services hosts Victim Assistance Training Academy

TDCJ staff attends National Crime Victims' Rights Week service

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