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IN THIS ISSUE:

In the Spotlight:
Vicki Hallman

TDCJ warden appointed to assignment with National Institute of Corrections

Retirees

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in the spotlight

Vicki Hallman
Prediction of Parole Division regional director comes true

Hallman standing near a highway with downtown Dallas in the background
Parole Division Region II Director Vicki Hallman predicted years ago that she would one day be a leader within the division. She now supervises13 district offices from her hometown of Dallas.
Photo by David Nunnelee
Confident and competitive from the start, Vicki Hallman knew at an early age that she would one day take center stage. She would even rehearse as the lead back then.

“When I was little, we played Diana Ross and The Supremes,” she said. “And I was always Diana Ross.”

So when the entry-level parole officer boldly predicted in 1976 that she would ultimately become a leader within TDCJ’s Parole Division, she had no doubts that she would, even if others expressed theirs. And never mind that she was one of only a handful of female parole officers working in the state at the time; she had faith.

“I’m a praying person, and I was praying about it way back then,” she said.

But it wasn’t until Hallman’s cell phone rang while she was packing to return to Texas from a workshop in Florida three years ago that her prophecy came to past. Phoning was a TDCJ Human Resources representative who began to ask Hallman questions that had to be answered satisfactorily before she could be offered the job as the Parole Division’s regional director in her hometown of Dallas. But before the woman could finish asking her obligatory questions, Hallman, realizing that her dream had finally come true, screamed and inadvertently hung up on the bearer of good news.

“I hung up on the lady,” Hallman said with embarrassment. “I was screaming and hung up on her.”

Fortunately, the cell phone Hallman then carried as an assistant regional director for Parole had Caller ID and she quickly called back.

“She told me that it was okay because she had never delivered news to someone who was as excited about it,” Hallman said.

With her promotion, Hallman became director of the Parole Division’s largest region, a North Texas area made up of approximately 22,000 parolees supervised by more than 500 agency employees spread across 13 district offices. A television documentary series entitled The History Makers recently featured her as a leader among African-American women in America.

“This has been my blessing,” she said. “And I say it almost in tears because everybody said I couldn’t do it. And I did.”

Yet Hallman is quick to add that she could not have reached such heights without the support of her supervisors and staff.

“I think I got this job because my supervisors realized that I am one of those people who love TDCJ,” she said. “I’ve loved it for 28 years. And I love it because of the challenges that we have to deal with every day. It keeps me going.”

Hallman graduated near the top of her high school class in Dallas before going on to earn a dual degree in pre-law and psychology from East Texas State University in Commerce (now named Texas A&M University-Commerce). She taught English and reading to 7th grade students for a year before finding her niche with TDCJ.

“I didn’t like it,” she said about teaching teens that were sometimes troublesome. “But I have a tremendous amount of respect for educators because I had the opportunity to see all the challenges they face. And I did learn early on how to deal with people who went against the norm.”

For a woman who says she likes quick results, Hallman’s 28-year career with TDCJ started slowly. She interviewed nine times before being promoted to unit supervisor in 1987. But just two years later, she was promoted to parole supervisor, responsible for running an entire office. And by 1995, she had risen to the position of assistant regional director, solely responsible for five parole offices in Dallas at the time.

“For two years I supervised Dallas by myself,” she said.

In 1997, Hallman’s load was lightened with the appointment of a second assistant regional director for Dallas (a third is assigned to Fort Worth). That allowed her time to get out into the community and educate residents about Parole and speak to them about the important role they play in the successful reintegration of offenders.

“I didn’t care if it was two people or two hundred in the audience,” she said. “If they wanted me to speak, I had something to say. I developed a lot of credibility that way, and some of the programs we have in place now are there because of that visibility. You have to be out there. You cannot wait for someone to pick up a textbook, Parole 101, and learn what we are about. Now, not only are we educating the community, we are allowing them to be part of the reintegration process.”

In 1996, Hallman developed the Females First and Foremost (F3) program to identify and address common issues faced by women released from prison. The program offered through the Dallas District Resource Center is aimed at reducing recidivism by replacing negative attitudes and thinking patterns with positive ones.

Hallman said the F3 program is one of her passions and that she has learned a great deal from the ex-offenders who have graduated from it over the years.

“Often people think they can only learn a lesson from someone who has some type of major credibility or position in life,” she said. “I learn a lot of lessons from those offenders because I always open myself up as a person. Some of their struggles have been my struggles. Some of the choices they’ve made could have been my choices. The mistakes they made in parenting makes me go back and be a better parent. I listen to them and I share me.”

Hallman devotes much of her own time to working with parolees and speaking to civic groups, so much so that in 2003 she was awarded a Governor’s Volunteer Award for community service.

Hallman said she doesn’t get frustrated that the war on recidivism has yet to be won.

“I don’t buy ownership into things I can’t control,” she said. “I can’t control the choices that offenders make. My responsibility is to see that we provide them with better alternatives so that maybe their choices will be better. What I take pride in is those that do take advantage, because we have so many that have made their lives better as a result of what we try to contribute. I tell myself that I might not win the war, but I can still fight that battle. My reality is that there are so many that want to stay out. It’s my job to help them visualize how.”

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TDCJ warden appointed to assignment with National Institute of Corrections

Sanchez State Jail Senior Warden Jason Heaton has been appointed to an Intergovernmental Personnel Act mobility assignment with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) in Washington D.C.

“This partnership between NIC and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is a wonderful opportunity for Warden Heaton to share his knowledge and experience in a national forum,” said TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division Director Doug Dretke.

Heaton’s two-year appointment was effective October 1.

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