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Programs and services for victims updated during annual conference

Programs working in collaboration with GO KIDS initiative listed on TDCJ website

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Programs and services for victims updated during annual conference

illustration of a trophyThe 18th Annual Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse Conference was another success as approximately 350 participants received information on new and updated programs and services for crime victims.

The conference was held in Austin from May 2-6. Conference attendees were informed about statistics regarding crime victims with disabilities and learned of direct services and the needs for the special population of crime victims.

Forty workshop sessions were held in all. Two dealt with Victim Services’ Victim Offender Mediation/Dialogue Program and the Correctional Institutions Division’s Safe Prison Program. The VOM/D program allows victims of violent crime to have a structured face-to-face meeting with their offender, allowing them to receive answers to unanswered questions and thereby helping in their healing and recovery process. It also gives offenders an opportunity to become responsible and accountable for their own behavior.

The Safe Prison program strives to not only provide for the safety of the offenders, but to protect employees from violence in the workplace and protect the public by helping to keep potential sexual predators and extortionists off the streets.

Rissie Owens, chairperson of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and board members Linda Garcia and Juanita Gonzalez addressed the conference regarding their procedures when granting or denying parole.

During the awards banquet, TxCVC presented 14 Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse Services awards, with one established and awarded to its namesake, Ann Hutchison. The award recipients are:

  • Darryl Horn - Practitioner/Law Enforcement Award - Outstanding leadership in a law enforcement-based program.

  • Michael S. Wenk - Danny Hill Award - Outstanding prosecutor upholding victims’ rights.

  • Linda Mace - Danny Hill Award - Outstanding support to a prosecutor upholding victims’ rights.

  • Tracy Viladevall - Practitioner Award - Outstanding victim witness coordinator in a prosecutor-based program.

  • Mary Sue Woods - Nell Myers Peer Advocacy Award - Outstanding leadership in a victim advocacy or support group.

  • Veronique Matthews, Hearts and Hooves - Senator Ralph Yarborough Allied Professional Award - Outstanding leadership by a non-victim service professional who has made a contribution to victim rights and services.

  • Carol Rhodes - Adult/Juvenile Probation or Parole Award - Outstanding leadership in a probation or parole-based program.

  • Shelton Green, KVUE News Austin - Media Award - Demonstrated excellence in use of media to further awareness of victim rights, services and issues.

  • Jean Frazier - Steve Chaney Distinguished Service Award - Outstanding service and commitment to improving victim services.

  • Kristen Stohr - Lychner Volunteer Award - For outstanding effort by a volunteer in a victim assistance program.

  • Bikers Against Child Abuse - Ellen Halbert Award - To honor a state-based program offering exceptional victim sensitivity and victim service.

  • Jill Hargrove - The Pioneer Award - To honor victim service providers who have been in the field of victim services for 10 years or longer.

  • Smith County Criminal District Attorney’s Office - Victim Assistance Division - Program Award - Exemplary victim assistance program.

  • Ann Hutchison - The Ann Hutchison Hero Award - For outstanding heroism and perseverance in protecting rights for crime victims.
Programs working in collaboration with GO KIDS initiative listed on TDCJ website
By Christina Melton Crain, TBCJ Chairman
portrait of Christina Melton Crain
Christina Melton Crain
TBCJ Chairman

In the January/February edition of the Connections newsletter, you were introduced to the GO KIDS (Giving Offenders’ Kids Incentive and Direction to Succeed) initiative. With children of offenders being seven times more likely than their peers to become involved in the criminal justice system, GO KIDS was established to provide invaluable information for accessing programs and services across Texas, as well as throughout the United States.

Available through the TDCJ website, GO KIDS resource lists identify programs and services offered to probationers, offenders and parolees, as well as their families. A particular interest, of course, has been placed on identifying resources offered for the children of offenders. The targeted programs and services address basic fundamental elements, such as mentoring, home-based interventions, parenting training, as well as social and mental health services.

The GO KIDS website also provides direct links to other websites for programs working in collaboration with the initiative. These programs are working side-by-side with TDCJ toward the goal of helping offender children. They are not, however, directly connected by working in a unit/facility or with offenders. At the time of publication, these programs included Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas, Amachi, No More Victims, Inc, and KICKSTART.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of North Texas provides children with support, guidance, friendship and fun by matching them to adult role models. Studies have shown that having a mentor significantly reduces a young person’s initiation of drug and alcohol use, improves their school performance and attendance, reduces incidences of violence, and improves their relationship with their custodial parents. The collaborative relationship between BBBS of North Texas and TDCJ began in 2004 when the organization approached the agency about working with it on the Amachi program.

Amachi: People of Faith Mentoring Children of Promise assists children and youth who have parents currently or formerly incarcerated. Through engaging these children in mentoring relationships with people of faith, the Amachi program is designed to address the specific needs of these children and alter the potential inter-generational cycle of incarceration. In Texas, mentoring through the Amachi program is currently only available in counties services by BBBS of North Texas, which includes Collin, Dallas, Denton, Grayson and Tarrant. Plans are underway, however, to expand this collaborative effort to other BBBS organizations throughout Texas.

Currently servicing the Houston area, No More Victims, Inc. (NMVI) utilizes very creative and innovative programming to specifically target the prevention of violent, abusive and victimizing behavior. Placing a special focus on the parent-child relationship, NMVI offers education, emotional support and empowerment to children and adults. It also addresses addictions and victimization, inclusive of prostitution, incarceration and reintegration, along with many other variables involved in the healing process.

KICKSTART targets children 12 to 14 years of age, particularly on school campuses in high-risk areas. It is a character-building, life-skills program with a fundamental purpose to give children the tools to strengthen their self-image. Servicing more than 34 schools in the Houston and Dallas area, KICKSTART changes and saves children’s lives by using martial arts training to instill values and skills that will enable them to resolve conflict, avoid participating in gangs, choose drug-free lifestyles, as well as set and achieve goals to include remaining in high school until they graduate.

At this point, you may be asking, how does TDCJ collaborate with these programs which are operating outside the agency? TDCJ ensures that information on the programs, as well as their benefits, are circulated to the offender as well as his or her families and children. Then, if interested, TDCJ helps the offender and his or her family make contact and arrangements for the program.

When we began this initiative, it was amazing to discover the number of programs and services that were actually being facilitated within the agency, as well as the services available in communities across the state. By establishing GO KIDS as a resource tool, thereby linking these individuals with the programs and services they so desperately need, we will make a difference in the future of a family, most importantly their children, as well as the future of the criminal justice system in Texas.

If you would like more information about GO KIDS, want to find out how you can help, or know of programs and services that should be included on the GO KIDS resource lists, please contact Wanda Redding, the TDCJ GO KIDS coordinator, at 936-437-6407. Help us make the difference in the life of a child!

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