Top Correction Officials Briefed on Research

CMIT Senior Level Corrections Leadership

Top managers within adult and juvenile corrections throughout Texas met leading researchers in the criminal justice field during the latest training offered by the Correctional Management Institute of Texas.

"It was one of the best conferences I’ve been to, and I’ve been to several,' said Dustin Fore, Assistant Deputy Director of Angelina County Adult Probation. "I’ve got four pages of things jotted down that I want to do when I get back. My brain hurts."

Senior level managers from prisons, jails, probation and parole offices, boosted their leadership skills and learned about the latest research in substance abuse, mental health, risk assessment, reentry and criminal thinking.

The program, which was piloted in February, is designed to increase the knowledge base of up-and-coming corrections leaders in the field.

"Research tell us that offender behavior change can occur," said Doug Dretke, Executive Director of CMIT. "Evidence-based practice must guide policy, program development and implementation."

The program is an outgrowth of the Mid Management Leadership Program, which provides attendees with supervision and leadership skills. Participants in the senior level program are nominated by their agencies to receive additional training in strategic planning and change management, as well as information on the research available from the top academics in criminal justice.

"Not only did I learn many techniques to be a better leader, this training helped to reinforce what I know," said Geralyn Engman, a clinical manager at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "I was able to interact with people from other disciplines within Criminal Justice. It helped me to learn how to deliver the rehabilitation message better."

Sgt. Eric Hensley of the Montgomery County Sheriff Office said the opportunity to work with other segments of the criminal justice system was invaluable.

"It provided a better understanding of how each department works so we can communicate better," said Hensley.

Among the presenters at the five-day session were Dr. Kevin Knight, Associate Director of Criminal Justice Studies at Texas Christian University, a leading researcher on substance abuse; Karol Wade, a licensed psychologist, on mental health issues; Dr. Holly Miller, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies at a SHSU College of Criminal Justice, on risk assessment; Dr. Jeffrey Bouffard, also of SHSU College of Criminal Justice, on reentry issues; Dr. John Edens of Texas A & M Department of Psychology, on criminal thinking and cognitive programming; and Dr. Randy Garner of SHSU College of Criminal Justice on the use and abuse of statistics.

Dr. Gaylene Armstrong, research director at CMIT, and Ed Owens, Retired Deputy Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, facilitated the program, helping participants discover how to put the research into practice, whether for the offender populations, in management practices at facilities or for the safety of officers. Charlotte Stalling, a motivation speaker, rounded out the program.

"We don’t want you to be just effective, but also smart on crime in the sense that you have the latest research information available to drive your decisions," said Armstrong. "We want to give you tools and resources to help you."

The Correctional Management Institute of Texas, created in 1994, provides assistance to the adult and juvenile community and institutional corrections agencies by offering training, programs, initiatives, technical assistance and research to practitioners in the field.

Member of The Texas State University System