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January 2017

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As 2016 comes to an end, and we begin this new year.  I am grateful for each member of our department!  We have so many dedicated and talented people.  2016 was full of challenges that gave staff many opportunities to shine… we had escapes (all recaptured), batteries committed upon staff and inmates where both were heroes, accidents, contraband issues − including the surge in K-2, the need to call in negotiators at Delta, tornadoes, a 100-year commemoration at the Tucker Unit, the start of an anger management treatment program at Cummins, Re-entry Barracks at each unit, Step-Down barracks at Varner, MSU and the Edovo tablet project at EARU for those earning their way out of segregation.  We have had many successes and too many loses.  Through the year, we remained true to our Public Safety mission.

Thank you for rising to the challenge as we continue to try new methods, policies and programs.  We are making a difference with our re-entry programs, opening more beds for the mentally ill within our system, the excellent CORP training for our staff that started several years ago, and the new behavioral health training, and the leaders who have stepped up to provide guidance and make the tough decisions.  I believe the new policies on Restrictive Housing and the policies on the Step-Down programs that go into effect Feb. 1, 2017, implementation of Think Legacy and expansion of motivational interviewing will improve public safety by reminding all of us that those in our custody are members of our community who need to be prepared before they are released.  As we have discussed, almost 90 percent of our inmates will be released, and they will be neighbors of ours and of our loved ones.  We want them to be released in a better and safer frame of mind than when they were sentenced to us.

The role our staff plays in setting the example of how people should be treated cannot be stressed enough!  What you do, say, and  your response to each other and  to inmates makes everyone’s day safer, or more stressful.  Kindness goes a long way, but an insult can hurt even deeper.  It is disheartening to read the incident reports of how some people treat others.  I regret that we do not always show each other the respect we deserve.   Please, continue to do your part to make these negative behaviors the exception within our agency.

I hope 2017 will bring joy to each of you.  I am confident it will bring more changes for our agency, and I will do my best, as I know you will, to be a positive influence.  Be safe!   

Wendy Kelley



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Arkansas Department of Correction
P.O. Box 8707
Pine Bluff, AR 71611-8707
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