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Branchville correctional staff receive public-service awards

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INDIANAPOLIS - During a ceremony in the Statehouse atrium May 10, Gov. Mitch Daniels presented the 2011 Governor's Public Service Achievement Awards.

Among the 85 state employees who received awards, those recognized from the Indiana Department of Correction were Unit Team Manager Kathy Alvey and Superintendent Gilbert Peters from Branchville Correctional Facility, Rebecca Deeb from PEN Products, and the Department's Division of Youth Services.

IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon expressed his support. "I join Gov. Daniels in congratulating all of today'recipients for their dedication to the state of Indiana. It is exceptional to have such hard working, committed individuals working for the Department of Correction. They all represent the high standards set by the IDOC to provide the best services to offenders and protect the safety of all Hoosiers."

Peters and Alvey were recognized for developing the successful Purposeful Incarceration program at Branchville. The program assists offenders with substance abuse issues by working with local judges and other county staff to enter the individual into an intense addiction recovery program while incarcerated. Those who comply with all IDOC rules and actively engage in the addiction-recovery program are rewarded with sentence modifications. Due to the success of the program at Branchville, Purposeful Incarceration has now been modeled by 17 other counties statewide. The program has provided savings to the state of $967,000.

Deeb, a new enterprise manager for IDOC's prison industries PEN Products, was recognized for her efforts to help employ offenders in meaningful jobs while they're incarcerated and providing them with work ethic and job skills to decrease their likelihood of returning to prison after they're released. Her work includes bringing 4,000 offender jobs to the Correctional Industrial Facility in the last 12 months, negotiating with an Indiana brake manufacturer to start a brake shop at the Correctional Industrial Facility, negotiating with a plastic recycler to employ over 100 offenders at Westville Correctional Facility, and working with two existing joint ventures at the Miami Correctional Facility to bring 100 additional offender jobs. Ms. Deeb's efforts have enhanced the rehabilitation process for offenders and provided them an opportunity for successful re-entry.
IDOC's Division of Youth Services received a team award in recognition of their initiative to reduce length of stay for juvenile offenders, ensuring that youth are committed to secure facilities for the minimal time period and only when posing a public safety risk. The DYS team includes Christine Blessinger, Kellie Whitcomb, Cecil Davis, Linda Commons, Esa Ehmen-Krause, Lori Harshbarger, Angela Sutton, Troy Smith, Timothy Greathouse, Ashley Taflinger, Marc Kniola, Mark Harmon and Laura Gorbonosenko. The efforts of this team of 13 have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the overall juvenile population, from a record high of nearly 1,200 to a record low of less than 600.

They have been instrumental in tracking, managing, and implementing strategies to reduce the length of stay, which has been recognized as a national best practice model.

DYS also established a Projected Program Completion Date program for youth at each facility. PPCD's were tracked in order to project and minimize lengths of stay in order to return the youth to community-based programs at the earliest opportunity. This program has resulted in savings of approximately $4 million.

"We've been working every day for the last six years to build a culture of performance in Indiana state government. The people who are with us this morning are this year'greatest exemplars of this culture of performance. Thanks to the hard work and embrace of this idea by Indiana'public servants, we have come a long, long way," said Daniels. When introducing the honorees from the IDOC, Daniels commented, "These individuals try to turn around lives that have run off on the wrong track, teach them job skills to create useful productive work, hopefully the kind that somebody can use to get a job when they come out."

The governor created the Public Service Achievement Award in December 2005. State agencies submit nominations of individuals or teams for review and recommendation to the governor.

Teams receive up to $4,000 to be divided among team members while individual award winners receive $1,000. In 2010, awards were presented to 46 state employees.