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Gratitude expressed to probation, parole, community supervision staff

Gov. Rick Perry, local government officials, ministers and everyday Texans expressed their gratitude in July to the state’s probation, parole and community supervision officers for their role in protecting public safety.

“Probation, parole and community supervision officers make sure offenders comply with the terms of their release through wide-ranging responsibilities that include overseeing the rehabilitation of offenders and conducting home visits,” Gov. Perry said in a proclamation designating July 19-25 as Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Officers’ Week. “At this time, I encourage all Texans to extend appreciation to probation, parole and community supervision officers across the Lone Star State. Their courage and commitment highlight the best in Texas.”

Awardees holding certificate.
TDCJ Chaplain James “Jim” Hough, left, Region IV Parole Assistant Director Dr. Norma Greenfield and Parole Board member Chuck Speier hold a proclamation from San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

Photo by Jene Robbins

TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston alsocalled for public recognition of the jobs performed by parole and community supervision officers across the state.

“These dedicated professionals work diligently each and every day on the front lines to assist and supervise offenders in our communities and, through their efforts, our public safety is significantly enhanced,” Livingston said.

Parole and probation offices across the state marked the week-long observance with luncheons and other special events for staff. Awards and certificates for outstanding service were presented in several districts, and volunteers were also honored. In San Antonio, parole officers were treated to an appreciation luncheon at a local church.

“We’re a church that likes to be involved with the community and we think that what you do is such important work in making our community a better place,” said MacArthur Park Church of Christ Senior Minister Mark Abshier to a roomful of parole officers. “You make it a better place by putting people back together again and helping them to understand what life is all about and the way to live it successfully.”

Region IV Assistant Director Dr. Norma Greenfield presented church elders with a certificate of appreciation for the luncheon.

“It does touch my heart to see that there are people who really do care,” she said. “It’s nice to know that the community appreciates us. That’s what keeps me going. We really do matter. We matter to these communities, we matter to these offenders and we matter to these offenders’ families.”

In Brazoria County, meanwhile, County Judge Joe King read aloud a proclamation honoring the service of the county’s community supervision and juvenile probation officers as a force for positive change. Staff awards were also announced.


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Dr. Lane Murray, first Windham superintendent, dies in Huntsville

Dr. Lane Murray
Dr. Lane Murray
Dr. Lane Murray, the first superintendent of the Windham School District, died on August 4 in Huntsville.

Dr. Murray pioneered the school district concept within a state prison system when she was named superintendent for the Windham School System, Texas Department of Corrections, in 1969. After the Texas Legislature created an independent school system within TDC, she was invited by prison system Director Dr. George Beto to serve as superintendent of the new school system, a position she held for more than two decades. She was also the first female school superintendent in the state.

“Here was an opportunity to develop a program from nothing to wherever it could be taken…for undereducated adults, without job skills, needing everything,” she once said.

Dr. Murray developed the school program from little more than an idea into one of the most highly respected correctional education programs in the nation. With no model to follow, she recognized the need for an innovative, nontraditional approach when teaching incarcerated adult felons. She identified and implemented a competency-based approach to instruction in the prison environment. Under her direction and leadership, Windham’s staff grew from eight instructors in 1969 to nearly 1,300 total employees today, including more than 800 certified teachers. She retired in 1993.

Her leadership skills have been recognized throughout the nation and state. Former President Gerald Ford appointed her to serve on the National Advisory Council for Adult Education, and she was twice elected president of the Correctional Education Association, USA-Canada. She was also a professional advisor to the National Business Council for Effective Literacy, Inc., and a member of the Texas Interagency Coordination Council’s Dropout Reduction Program.

In August, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice renamed the Windham School District’s Teacher of the Year Award to honor Murray. The first Lane Murray Excellence in Teaching Award was presented in October.

Recognition of Dr. Murray’s professional contributions include the 1984 E.R. Cass Correctional Achievement Award, the American Correctional Association’s most prestigious award, conferred in recognition of outstanding professional service and dedication to the correctional community and the public. She was also inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988, a distinction accorded to Texans such as Lady Bird Johnson, Ann Richards, Sally Ride, Liz Carpenter, Barbara Bush, Barbara Jordan and Sandra Day O’Connor.

In 1996, Dr. Murray was recognized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice with the naming of the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville in her honor. Then-Governor George W. Bush attended the unit’s dedication and thanked her for her service to Texas.

A native Texan, Dr. Murray was born in Celina in 1921 and began her teaching experience in 1942.


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