A new division has been created within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to further assist incarcerated offenders as they transition back into society.
Creation of the new Reentry and Integration Division was announced by TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston in August. The new division is headed by Dee Wilson, who previously managed the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (TCOOMMI) for the agency. The former Reentry and Rehabilitation Division has been renamed the Rehabilitation Programs Division and will work in tandem with the new division.
“This will give us the opportunity to align our resources in a way that will allow us to focus our efforts with respect to reentry,” Livingston said. “And while we’re doing that, the Rehabilitation Programs Division will continue to focus on its efforts.”
Wilson has worked in the mental health and criminal justice field for more than 30 years and headed TCOOMMI since 1987. She has been actively involved in policy, legislative and program initiatives for offenders with mental illnesses, mental retardation and special needs. In addition, Wilson has served as a consultant to local, state and national organizations to help develop treatment programs for offenders with special needs and has conducted training for state and national criminal justice, human services and advocacy organizations on policy and legislative strategies. She has also conducted numerous training sessions for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies on identification and management of offenders with special needs.
Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University and earned a master’s degree from the Worden School of Social Services at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio in 1982.
The new Reentry and Integration Division is made up of TCOOMMI, the Project RIO (Reintegration of Offenders) program, and 64 reentry coordinator positions approved by the Legislature during the last session. The new reentry coordinators will be strategically stationed throughout the state to personally assist offenders with their transition back to society.
April Zamora was named to replace Wilson as director of TCOOMMI. Zamora had served as TCOOMMI’s programs director since 2007 and formerly worked for the Texas Youth Commission and TDCJ’s Parole Division.
“One of our objectives is to make sure that we are not sitting on our laurels,” said Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver J. Bell. “We have several functions that we do very well, and the Legislature, by approving these additional reentry positions, has presented us an opportunity to aggressively pursue another area where we can improve our operations.”
TDCJ currently has jurisdiction over more than 650,000 offenders on probation, parole or incarcerated throughout the state.