New officers welcomed to MDOC at graduation ceremony

Nearly 50 men and women in the Carol Howes Officer Recruit Training Class were honored at a graduation ceremony Friday at Ionia Correctional Facility.

They will serve at Bellamy Creek, Michigan Reformatory and Ionia correctional facilities.

Graduate Matthew Schultz received the Josephine B. McCallum Award and graduate Kenneth Chileshe received the Jack L. Budd Award. The top academic achiever was Christopher Balmes.

The class was named in honor of Carol Howes, who retired from the Department of Corrections in May after more than 40 years of service. Howes held many positions during her decades with the department. She was Warden of the Michigan Dunes Correctional Facility and the Florence Crane Women’s Facility in Coldwater. Most recently, she was Warden of Lakeland Correctional Facility.

Bonita Hoffner, who is now Warden at Lakeland, spoke on Howes’ behalf at the ceremony. Howes could not attend due to illness. Howes is a bookworm, animal rights advocate, a former Peace Corps volunteer and a labor rights supporter, Hoffner said.

Hoffner told a story that conveyed Howes’ can-do attitude. Howes and her 96-year-old mother couldn’t start a car, and Howes decided they should push it down a hill.  Once it was rolling, Howes would jump in and start the engine. At least that was the plan. The car ended up stuck in a pond. After a tow truck driver came to their rescue and dislodged the car, Howes made sure to ask for help starting it, too.

Howes would encourage officers to learn what inmate behaviors aren’t normal. Knowing what’s not normal could save a life, she would say.

“Carol had a great way with people,” Hoffner said.

MDOC Director Daniel Heyns also addressed the class.

“It’s a very, very hard job you’re about to under take,” he said.

MCO congratulates the new officers on their hard work and wishes them the best on their new careers.

Click here to see more photos on MCO’s Flickr page.


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