Michael Francke Career Achievement Award 

In Honor and Memory of Michael Francke 
Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Corrections 
Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections 
Slain in Line of Duty – January 17, 1989 


 SUMMARY: The Michael Francke Career Achievement Award was created to recognize an associate, who has given outstanding service to the agency(ies) in which he/she has served in honor and memory of Francke, who was slain in the line of duty in 1989. 

The Francke Award distinguishes a member who has given outstanding service to the agency(ies) in which he/she has served. 

BIO: James Michael Francke, known as Mike to friends and family, was an exceptional man and an avant-garde leader in the corrections field in the 1980s. His work as a correctional professional helped shape the penal system in New Mexico and Oregon. At the time of his death in 1989, he was the secretary for the Oregon Department of Corrections, where he crafted and oversaw the largest expansion and modernization in the state’s correctional history. He was a progressive leader whose legacy will forever influence future generations of correctional administrators striving to make a difference. 

Francke was born October 2, 1946, in Kansas City, Missouri. His father, Dr. H. Edward Francke; his mother, Helen; two brothers, Patrick and Kevin; and sister, Ann lived in Kansas City, until they moved to Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, in 1951. He attended St. Ann’s Catholic Elementary School in Prairie Village and Rockhurst High School, a Jesuit prep school in Kansas City. Francke lettered in football, track and basketball. After graduating from high school, he was awarded a football scholarship from New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) in Las Vegas, NM, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a combined major of political science, economics, German and French. 

After graduating from NMHU, he attended the University of Virginia (UVA) Law School on a scholastic scholarship. He graduated cum laude with a law degree in 1971; and he was admitted to the Virginia bar that same year. He was also a member of the UVA Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps as a lieutenant, junior grade. From 1971 to 1974, he served as a lieutenant judge advocate general officer at the U.S. Navy’s Long Beach Naval Station. 

In 1975, Francke moved back to New Mexico and was admitted to the New Mexico bar. From 1975 to 1980, he worked for New Mexico Attorney General Jeff Bingaman as a senior assistant attorney general. On February 2, 1980, the bloodiest prison riot in U.S. history broke out at the New Mexico State Penitentiary in Santa Fe, resulting in the brutal, sadistic deaths of 33 inmates and the torture and beatings of several staff. Soon after, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and a Citizens Advisory Panel collaborated in conducting an investigation to closely examine the complex issues leading up to the riot. Francke was part of the attorney general’s investigative team that ultimately recommended solutions for rebuilding the New Mexico Corrections Department. 

In 1980, New Mexico Governor Bruce King named Francke district judge for the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe. Francke remained on the bench for three years before Governor Toney Anaya appointed him as Secretary of the New Mexico Corrections Department in 1983. During his tenure as secretary, Francke’s most notable contribution was his commitment to establishing policy and hiring skilled personnel to efficiently manage the administration of the Duran Consent Decree and to ensure compliance. The Duran Consent Decree arose out of a federal lawsuit stemming from the 1980 prison riot. 

Francke was also an active member of the Santa Fe community. He was a founding trustee for Santa Fe Community College; and he also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the college. 

In 1987, Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt appointed Francke as Director for the Oregon Department of Corrections. As Director, Francke instituted initiative that modernized the Oregon state prison system, including upgrading educational and vocational programs and incorporating drug and alcohol rehabilitation into prison programming. 

After serving for two years as Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, Francke was well on his way to enjoying a long and prosperous career in corrections. Unfortunately, his career was cut short on January 17, 1989, when he was found stabbed to death on the doorsteps outside of the Department of Corrections in Salem. 

Fifteen months later, a small-time methamphetamine dealer was charged with the crime; was convicted of six counts of aggravated murder and one count of murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In spite of this conviction and sentence, there are people who are still skeptical about what really happened that evening. 

In 1992, the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) created an award in Michael Francke’s name. The annual award recognizes an outstanding ASCA member whose dedication and achievement parallels the type of leadership Francke demonstrated when he was alive. 

At the time of his death, Francke had three children, one daughter and two sons (Marlo, Joel, and Trey). 

* Frank Gable was exonerated and his record expunged and the case has become an unsolved murder as of Judge Acosta's ruling May 8, 2023.

Michael Francke's advice to new directors:

Be a good politician. You are not in a position to dictate. You have to play ball with the Criminal Justice System, the legislature, and the public through the media. 

Be flexible. You are a lobbyist, a PR man, and the connection between the agency and the legislature and government. If a director claims he's not a politician, he's just a poor one.

Early in the game, communicate with the Governor, legislature, and media to gain support for what you want to do- and make sure what you try to take on is 'do-able.'

Nomination Eligibility and Process

Nominees must have been in their position for at least 2 years and have a lengthy and productive corrections career, especially in his/her role as director, which should include active participation and contribution to the Correctional Leaders Association (CLA) events and/or projects.

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 Francke Award Recipients

Elaine Little 
Joe Lehman 
Chase Riveland 
Morris Thigpen 
Richard Stalder 
Glenn Goord 
Ron Angelone 
Reginald Wilkinson
Dora Schriro 
Kathy Hawk Sawyer 
Harold Clarke 

Terry Collins
Theodis Beck
 Larry Norris 
Jeffrey Beard 
Martin Horn 
Odie Washington 
Brad Livingston 
Ted Sakai
Bob Lampert 
Gary Maynard 

Patricia Caruso                                                
Richard Stalder 
Roger Werholtz 
A.T. Wall
(2016) Tom Roy- MN DOC

(2017) Gary Mohr- OH DRC
(2018) Chuck Ryan- AZ DOC

(2019) Jefferson Dunn- AL DOC
(2020) Colette S. Peters- OR DOC
(2021) Anthony Annucci- NYS DOCCS 

(2022) Bryan Collier - TDCJ 

2023 Anne Precythe - MODOC