Counseling Inmates on Life after Prison

Alumnus Valdie Masco counsels offenders at the federal Bureau of Prisons in Bryan.
Alumnus Valdie Masco (center) counsels offenders at the federal Bureau of Prisons in Bryan as well as students on jobs available in the agency.

Valdie Masco (BS ’94) helps prepare female offenders from the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan for their release back into the community.

The Federal Prison Camp in Bryan.
Federal Prison Camp in Bryan.
Masco is a career counselor with the minimum security facility, one of only eight correctional institutions across the country that exclusively handle female offenders sentenced on federal crimes, ranging from embezzlement, medical and bank fraud, and drug distribution and possession. Her job includes assisting with educational, mental health, physical health, and job assistance needs as well as ensuring compliance with judge’s recommendations and financial obligations. She also serves as a recruiter for the Bureau of Prisons and is a member of the crisis support team.

Women's group at a Bureau of Prisons facility.
Women's group at a Bureau of Prisons facility.
“Knowing that I might have a positive impact on another person’s life is one of the rewards in being a career counselor,” said Masco.

The Bryan facility also houses a residential drug treatment program, an intensive, nine month program for offenders. The facility offers several educational programs, ranging from GED and ESL classes to post-secondary education and adult continuing education. It also provides vocational training in master gardener/horticulture, cosmetology, and apprenticeship programs in culinary arts (baking), dental and landscape maintenance technician.

Federal prisons offer vocational training to inmates.
Federal prisons offer vocational training to inmates.
Counseling is provided for inmates, with specialized programs designed for substance abuse, suicide abuse, sexually abusive behavior and trauma recovery. Regular group sessions are also available in coping skills and rational emotive behavior therapy, where offenders learn to manage stress, depression, anger and control issues.

Counselors prepare offender for life and an outside prison.
Counselors prepare offender for life and outside prison.
The facility also stresses compliance with court orders, such as restitution to victims. In fact, each woman housed at the facility is required to establish a saving account to help build funds before their release.

The counselors also provide guidance for inmates for institutional adjustment, including visitation, correspondence, furlough requests and daily concerns. “I have grown and learned to think outside the box during my career,” said Masco.

Inmates build skills to reintegrate into society.
Inmates build skills to reintegrate into society.
The Bryan facility is one of 119 institutions and 22 residential reentry management offices operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Bureau managed 219,000 federal offenders, with 81 percent confined to facilities and the remainder in secure privately manage facilities, community based program and local jails.

Masco said that Sam Houston State University helped prepare her for a career in corrections.

“SHSU gave me the tools I need to become an effective employee,” said Masco.

Member of The Texas State University System