In 1994, the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) opened its doors to officials from prisons, jails, and community corrections throughout the state to offer training and professional development based on the latest scientific studies available.
Doug Dretke, Executive Director of CMIT.“CMIT has substantially increased the amount of training, professional development, and technical assistance opportunities over the past number of years providing comprehensive leadership programs and specifically tailored leadership programs to correctional professionals serving in senior and executive leadership positions in probation, jails, and prisons,” said Doug Dretke, Executive Director of CMIT. “The Institute serves correctional professionals across Texas, but also has developed a number of significant national programs which has caused us to be recognized across the United States as an important and incredible resource for professional development.“
For years, the College of Criminal Justice and its predecessor, the Institute of Contemporary Corrections and the Behavior Sciences, had received funding to provide some training opportunities for those in the correctional field. With the creation of CMIT, those efforts were expanded under one roof with a mission to make improvements in both the adult and juvenile criminal justice system. It targeted the leadership and management of institutions and agencies, as well as support personnel, to implement change.
CMIT provided training for crime scene investigations inside prisons.“The mission was to deliver meaningful training and technical assistance to those in the correctional system and to seek out windows of opportunity,” said Dan Beto, the founding director of CMIT and son of Dr. George Beto, who was one of the key leaders responsible for the creation of the College of Criminal Justice. “I don’t care how much planning you do, it’s those windows of opportunity that can make the difference.”
Since then, CMIT has grown into a premiere program in corrections that attracts officials from all over the nation and world.
“I am in California, and we don’t have the luxury of a place like CMIT for jail trainings, and it’s nice to have a ‘home base’ for correctional training,” said Jaime Clayton, Correctional Chief for Imperial County CA and current president of the American Jail Association. “CMIT provides the best of the best for curriculum and professors. The NJLCA (National Jail Leadership Command Academy) is current, effective and desperately needed for training our leaders today and tomorrow. “
In addition to offering ongoing programs for the state correctional field through county corrections, senior and mid-management leadership, and the Texas Probation Training Academy, CMIT sponsors conferences on evolving topics, such as drugs, gangs, women working in criminal justice, and mental health issues.
CMIT recently hosted its first mental health conference for those who work in the criminal justice system.“I believe CMIT’s biggest achievement is becoming a first option for correctional leaders in Texas and other states that are looking to develop leaders, move a vision forward, and establish sound policy,” said Charles Robinson, Director of Travis County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD) in Austin. “CMIT has affected the field by providing training that is relevant and transferrable. Staff who attend CMIT trainings know they will receive training they can take from the classroom and apply on the job.”
Tobin Lefler, Director of the Cameron/Willacy County CSCD, said CMIT has made a significant impact in the corrections field.
Among the trainings are for chief deputies in Texas.“They are able to provide technical assistance to agencies at little or no cost in addition to their popular conferences,” said Lefler. “During the annual Chief’s conference, CMIT makes it possible for all of the Texas Chiefs to come together and exchange ideas in order to make our Departments more proficient.”
CMIT also teams up with the North American Association of Wardens & Supervisors (NAAWS) to provide a nationwide Warden Peer Interaction Program to allow top prison officials to share innovative ideas along with the American Jail Association and the National Association of Counties to offer the National Jail Leadership Command Academy to train managers to develop the skills needed to transition to senior leadership within jails.
CMIT offered a webinar to provide information for probation officers.
“The biggest achievement in my opinion: CMIT’s ability to give the individuals in our chosen profession the tools necessary to succeed,” said Lt. Wynnie Testamark-Samuels, Accreditation Manager and PREA Coordinator for Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Programs. “It has affected the profession in a positive light by providing professional development for the corrections professions. Additionally, networking opportunities, which allows continuous opportunities to learn best practices throughout the industry without having to travel or be in a formal setting.
A Polish delegation tours a jail facility in Texas. CMIT’s expertise has been recognized internationally, and it frequently hosts foreign officials and students in the criminal justice field, including representatives from Japan, Korea, Poland, Mexico and the Czech Republic, to name a few. Its programs cover all aspects of the system, including probation, parole, prisons and jails.
In addition to serving the agencies that supervise the offender population, CMIT also supports professional associations – in Texas and across the nation – that promote the discipline. CMIT serves as the secretariat for eight organizations in the field and operates their conferences, trainings and communications. They include the National Association of Probation Executives, Texas Probation Association, Association for Paroling Authorities International, National Juvenile Court Services Association, Texas Jail Association, Texas Association for Court Administration, Texas Association of Drug Court Professionals, and Texas Chief Deputies Association.
CMIT held national meeting for paroling authorities.CMIT also serves as the host site for conferences, training initiatives, and meetings of many organizations, including the National Institute of Corrections, Texas Center for the Judiciary, Texas Association for Court Administration, Texas District and County Attorney’s Association, Texas Probation Association, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association, area probation departments, and various divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
To provide cutting-edge information to the field, CMIT also conducts research on emerging issues, often within the very agencies they serve. It also coordinates with the College of Criminal Justice on important research topics that affect the agenda, including such recent issues as specialty courts, education, and employee issues.
Dr. Jeff Bouffard.“We have the capacity in CMIT to serve our constituents needs,” said Dr. Jeff Bouffard, Director of Research for CMIT. “A lot of the research at CMIT is a cousin to our technical assistance mission. We are giving people information on state-of-the-art practices and doing research on how to develop or evaluate it for their specific agencies.”
Dretke said the Institute and the College make good partners.
“The Institute continues to further develop its capacity as it works closely with the College of Criminal Justice to ensure our programs incorporate the latest research and evidence based practices helping to provide correctional professionals the ability to maximize their leadership potential as they serve to make our communities safer,” Dretke said.