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Caps, Gowns and Barbed Wire: First-ever College Graduation in Prison was Joyous Celebration

IONIA — His tassel flipped from right to left, his name called from the podium and the grip-and-grin snapshot with Calvin University's president taken, James Sturdivant slowly sank back into his seat among his fellow college graduates. He opened the maroon-colored folder bearing his diploma, stared at it and shut the cover.

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Ionia Prisoners Receive Degrees from Calvin University

IONIA — More than 70 inmates at an Ionia prison received degrees in faith and community leadership Monday — hoping to take what they’ve learned to better their facilities and communities. The Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) hosted its commencement ceremony Monday, May 9, at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility, 1728 Bluewater Highway, in Ionia. There were 45 prisoners who received their bachelor’s degrees in faith and community leadership and 31 who earned their associate degree.

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Michigan Inmates Among Program's First to Earn Bachelor's Degrees

Ionia — Raymond Potts was heading to prison 16 years ago when he began to reflect on how his poor choices had affected his family, his friends and himself. Potts, then 36, realized he couldn't do anything about the two first-degree criminal sexual conduct convictions that landed him a sentence that will keep him in prison until at least 2050. So he worked to become a leader inside prison by getting involved in numerous educational activities, from mediation certification to seminary work to culinary arts.

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‘It means hope’: Inmates Graduate from Calvin Prison Initiative

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Springtime is graduation season all across the country and right here in West Michigan. You might not expect a graduation ceremony to take place inside the confines of a prison but that’s exactly what happened Monday.
The processional looked like most graduations: Guests gathered to see their loved ones receive certification that they had achieved an associate or bachelor’s degree, there was a commencement address and a presentation of the diplomas.

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Handlon Inmates Graduate Calvin University with Degrees, New Outlooks on Life

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — For a few hours Monday, inside a tent decorated with maroon and gold, it was easy to forget where you were.
Among the music and the commotion and the robes and tassels, it was easy to forget that this graduation ceremony was being held inside the walls of a prison. But to the graduates leaving with their degrees, and their families, it didn’t matter. Diplomas are the same everywhere, as is the pride that comes with it.

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Congratulations to the 2021 Francke and Clements Award winners

CLA would like to congratulate this year's Francke and Clements Award Recipients who were honored last week during a special awards session Saturday morning at the 2022 CLA Winter conference in Phoenix, AZ. The 2021 Francke award recipient is NYS DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci. The 2021 Clements award recipient is Bryan Stirling, Director of SC DOC.

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New Nationwide Partnership to Improve Prison Conditions

On January 8, 2022, the Center for Justice and Human Dignity, the Correctional Leaders Association (CLA), and Recidiviz announced their new partnership to improve prison conditions in a manner that prioritizes the dignity, health, safety, and wellbeing of those working or incarcerated inside. This project is inspired by Tom Clements, the former head of Colorado’s Department of Corrections (DOC), who sought to systematically change corrections in his home state and across the nation. 

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NC prisons chief on COVID: ‘We’ve scrambled, improvised ... and learned from mistakes’

Prisons are a microcosm of the larger world. I see North Carolina’s prison system as 55 small cities woven into the fabric of their surrounding communities. Our prisons, while secure, aren’t isolated. We accept and release offenders. Visitors come and go. Employees shift in and out. Deliveries arrive and depart. What you find outside is also inside. That includes COVID-19 and its variants, which for almost two years now have completely disrupted the operations of our 55 prison communities.

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Resolution to Rename Facility: 
TDCJ Brad Livingston Administrative Headquarters

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Administrative Headquarters in Huntsville is in a complex known as the BOT for its previous owner, Brown Oil Tools, a subsidiary of Baker Hughes Company. The facility was purchased from Brown Oil Tools in 1989 and converted into the executive administration headquarters, along with several other divisions of the agency.

The TDCJ Administrative Headquarters will now be known as the Brad Livingston Complex in recognition of the agency’s former executive director.

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Michigan Department of Corrections announces new technology Initiative

Lansing, MI -- The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), announced today a new initiative that will further Michigan’s efforts to improve record-low recidivism rates through advancements in outcome-based decision-making. MDOC has partnered with California-based Recidiviz to identify, scale, and sustain strategies driving successful results for individuals in prison and on supervision.

“This partnership builds on the hard work of MDOC staff to power initiatives that provide job and skills training to incarcerated people and those under supervision, keeping them out of prisons and supporting their transition back to society,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “With this new technology, we can improve public safety, better the lives of incarcerated people and their families, and enhance economic outcomes in Michigan.”

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Arkansas Department of Corrections’ Website Wins International Award

The Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) has received an international award’s highest honor for its newly designed website. Chosen among 5,000 entries worldwide, doc.arkansas.gov was recognized with the Award of Excellence in the Government Website category at the 2021 Communicator Awards.

“We are honored to be recognized for our redesigned website, which continues to be instrumental in telling our stories and enhances our ability to be transparent,” said Solomon Graves, Department of Corrections Secretary. “The website allows us to successfully improve the efficiency of our services and underscores our focus on public safety and transparency.”

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From LA jail, two inmates pioneer care for mentally ill peers

With more than 5,000 inmates struggling with mental health issues, the Los Angeles County jail is the largest jail system in the United States. It also holds another unofficial title: the nation’s largest mental health institution. That jail population has more than doubled in the past 10 years, with the imposing Twin Towers facility for men in downtown Los Angeles now devoted almost entirely to mental health inmates under “moderate” or “high” observation.

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Bruce Hodges Named Warden at Tyrrell Prison Work Farm

RALEIGH - 

The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice has named Bruce Hodges as the new warden of the Tyrrell Prison Work Farm in Columbia.

Hodges had been Prisons’ Program Development Coordinator and Project Manager in Raleigh since 2019.

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Edward Basden Named Warden at New Hanover Correctional Center

RALEIGH - 

The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice has named Edward Basden as the new warden at the New Hanover Correctional Center in Wilmington.

Basden had been the associate warden of custody at the prison since 2017.

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Oregon corrections director honored with Michael Francke Career Achievement Award

Oregon Department of Corrections Director Colette Peters has been honored with the Michael Francke Career Achievement Award from the Correctional Leaders Association.

The association is dedicated to promoting, supporting and advancing the profession of corrections. Its members and associates lead more than 400,000 correctional professionals and 8 million inmates, probationers and parolees. The association presented the award to Peters during an online meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17.

The award is named after the late director of the Oregon corrections department who was murdered outside his office in Salem on Jan. 17, 1989. It was created to recognize a member who has given outstanding service to their agency or agencies in honor and memory of Francke.

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PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Sinclair Receives National Corrections Award

Washington State Department of Corrections, Secretary Stephen Sinclair (pdf), is the 2020 recipient of the Clements Award, presented by the national Correctional Leaders Association (CLA). Sinclair received the award during the association’s All Directors Virtual Symposium on Dec. 17, 2020.

The Clements Award honors the memory of Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. On March 19, 2013, Clements was killed outside his home by a parolee.

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Governor Whitmer Signs Bipartisan “Clean Slate” Criminal Justice Reform Bills Expanding Opportunities for Expungement, Breaking Barriers to Employment and Housing Opportunities

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders could be eligible to have their records expunged after governor signs bills 

DETROIT, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 reforming Michigan’s criminal expungement laws making it easier for people who have committed certain felonies and misdemeanors to have their record expunged. Changes in the bills include allowing a person to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after December 6, 2018  when recreational marijuana use by adults became legal in the state,  due to the referendum that voters approved to legalize marijuana in 2018. During her 2018 campaign for governor, Governor Whitmer made expungement for marijuana convictions one of her key priorities, and today she is following through on that promise.

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Michigan Department of Corrections Launches Video Visitation Pilot

Lansing, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Corrections has launched a new video visitation pilot to offer an avenue for those incarcerated and their families to safely connect during the pandemic

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