Tom Clements Innovation and Achievement Award


In Honor and Memory of Tom Clements,
October 2, 1954 - March 19, 2013
Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections Assassinated on March 19, 2013


SUMMARY: This award was created in 2015 to honor the memory of Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, who was assassinated in the line of duty in March 2013. This award was established to identify one CLA member who displays innovation and achievement, two of Clements qualities before his life was taken from us. 

Tom Clements inspired everyone he knew to demonstrate the purpose and determination to improve corrections. He epitomized the virtues of vision, mission, innovation, and the fair and effective treatment of prisoners from incarceration through reentry into their communities. In the wake of his assassination, CLA has been inspired to present the Tom Clements award annually to a director who most closely reflects his virtues and accomplishments as a leader in the corrections profession.

BIO: Tom committed his life to serve the correctional population as a teenager, having been deeply touched by visiting his uncle in prison. He prepared himself academically for correctional challenges, earning an Associate's degree in Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice in 1977, a Bachelor's degree in Sociology in 1979, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration in 1994.

He began working in Missouri corrections in 1979, and over his 31 years there, he occupied a variety of increasingly challenging positions in probation and parole services as well as prisons. He was Director of Adult Institutions when he retired in 2011.

Not yet ready to end his career, he moved to Colorado to become Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections where he served for two years until his death in 2013.

Tom’s Vision, Mission, Innovations, and Reforms

During his thirty-one years in Missouri and his last two years at the helm of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom pursued his career-long progressive vision of corrections as an entity that supports the redemption of offenders. Thus, he set out to:

  • Address offenders’ personal challenges with appropriate treatment;
  • Practice firm and fair responses to disciplinary and uncertain situations,
  • Provide appropriate programs that prepare offenders for reentry; and
  • Build bridges to all community services to enhance chances for success.

Tom epitomized the public servant who fulfilled a true calling to service. He loved his staff and viewed their service alongside him as a pleasure.

The Governor praised Tom for the innovations he had made, which helped decrease Colorado's recidivism rate and dramatically reduce the number of inmates in administrative segregation.

Nomination Eligibility and Process

Any nominee for the Clements Award must be an active CLA member of at least two years and must have demonstrated that he/she regularly participates and contributes to CLA events and/or projects.

The Clements Award distinguishes a member who has initiated an outstanding innovation or an achievement that embodies the vision of corrections reform embraced by Executive Director Clements. This vision includes but is not limited to reforms in the area of administrative segregation, recidivism, parole supervision, prison programming, and other successful reform which is progressive in nature.
Nominations for this award may be submitted by current CLA Members, Associate Members, the supervising authority of the correctional administrator (i.e. Governor, Mayor, etc.), or a senior staff person who reports directly to the nominee.


Past Clements Award Recipients

Gary Mohr- OH DRC (2015) 
Leann Bertsch- ND DOCR (2016) 
Rick Raemisch CO DOC (2017) 
Heidi Washington  MI DOC (2018)
Harold Clarke VA DOC and James Le Blanc LA DPS (2019)

Steve Sinclair- WA DOC (2020)
Bryan Stirling- SC DOC (2021)

Scott Frakes- NE DOC (2022) 

Annette Chambers-Smith OH DRC(2023)