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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2011 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Patriot Paws
Susan Cranford Award - Female Offender Program

Photo of Award Winner(s)

In 2008, the Patriot Paws program, nationally recognized in the service dog industry, formed a partnership with the TDCJ to provide female offenders with a rare and unique skill in training service dogs for mobility impaired individuals. Patriot Paws focuses on helping disabled American Veterans and others that request assistance and are qualified. The training program is offered on two female correctional facilities in Gatesville, the Lane Murray Unit and the Christina Melton Crain Unit. The training carries a cost of nearly $20,000.00 per person in the free world and is offered in very few places across the United States. Offenders receive the training at no cost and receive certification that helps them with re-entry into the community. Since its inception, the program has placed 18 service dogs. There have also been 18 female offenders who have participated in the program and have been released from prison. Eleven of these currently work in a dog training related field. Through this program, the female offenders gain self-esteem and pride in knowing they are truly helping make a difference in the lives of others. They feel as though they are no longer taking from society, but giving back and “paying it forward.” For its service to others, and helping redeem the lives of female offenders, Patriot Paws has been selected to receive the prestigious Susan Cranford Award for female offender program.

This award is named as a tribute to Susan Cranford who passed away in March 2007 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Susan, a former Windham School District and TDCJ employee, served the Agency for 28 years. Many of those years were spent as the Warden at the Gatesville Unit. Prior to her retirement, Susan also served as Assistant Director of the State Jail Division and the Director of Private Facilities Division. Susan Cranford’s innovative thinking and relentless desire to improve criminal justice programs for females gained her a well-deserved national reputation as an expert on women’s issues in the field of corrections, both from the staff and offender perspectives.