Move Forward Campaign Puts Corrections Work in the Spotlight

MCO is proud to announce a new effort aimed at promoting corrections and forensic officers and the values and standards that set them apart in the criminal justice system.

poster 1 Professionalism-02The Move Forward campaign ties together all of our recent efforts to promote professionalism in corrections and draws attention to the diverse and unique work expected of the modern-day corrections officer.

Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by an inspirational poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. These posters will be displayed on the union bulletin board at your facility, the MCO website, Facebook and new Instagram page.

In addition, a special 50th anniversary logo and coin will be unveiled to celebrate MCO’s 50 years of advocacy on behalf of corrections officers and forensic security assistants.

The campaign is also a way to affirm our position that as corrections officers, we can have a meaningful influence on policy and help shape the direction of our statewide and national criminal justice systems. By speaking with “One Voice,” MCO has created a nation-wide effort to inject the voices of officers into the corrections reform debate. This allows you the ability to impact the safety, health, and security of staff and inmates alike. More on One Voice will be in the next MCO Report.

This is how we start to change the narrative and tell a new story about corrections officers.  For years, MCO members have pushed for increased engagement and communication. These are your messages. Thank you, members, for your continued support.

Make sure you stay up to date by reading the KYI and MCO Report. Get MCO news first – sign up for our email alerts and join our members-only Facebook group. Have feedback on the Move Forward campaign? Send your thoughts to mail@mco-seiu.org.

Move Forward: The Value of Integrity

Integrity-new small-12x18In life or on the job, integrity is among the most important values an individual can possess. It is central to earning the trust of the public and vital to building relationships with our co-workers, supervisors, friends and family.

Integrity can mean something different to us all. For some, it’s simply following through on your word or doing what is needed when no one else is looking. For others, its being a good role model, practicing what you teach and leading by example no matter what the situation.

That’s why integrity is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Click the poster at left to see it larger.

For corrections officers, integrity can be displayed in a variety of ways and is often tested at every turn. But who we are and how we conduct our business, speaks volumes about our profession and illustrates the key role we play in the criminal justice system

Corrections Officer Pam Basal of the Marquette Branch Prison said that she has run into former inmates while volunteering at the U.P. State Fair, and they’ve commented on the integrity of officers and what impact it had on their lives.

“They said the programming was good, but it was the officers in the unit that made the difference, that made sure that they got up, learned to be responsible, set an example for who they should be…we (the COs) helped change them,” CO Basal said.

What does integrity mean to you? MCO wants to hear from you and lift up your stories. This is how we start to change the narrative on corrections work and break down the misperceptions of who officers are and what matters most in our profession. Email MCO Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

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Move Forward: The Value of Family

FamilyIt is widely known that corrections is a difficult environment and officers get little recognition. From long hours to dangerous situations, it’s easy to ask why officers do the job. For most, that answer is easily traced back to one extremely important reason: family, and providing them with a humble living.

That’s why family is this month’s value in the Move Forward Campaign. Click the poster at left to see it larger.

“This career is a double-edged sword – we do it to provide for our families, but the stress of it can separate us from our families if we aren’t careful,” Cotton Officer Steve Hammond said. “It’s so important that we open up to our loved ones and appreciate and make time for them.”

“I chose this career to provide for my family, but there is so much mandatory overtime. There are times we make plans with our families and we have to miss them because we have to work,” Hammond said.

Families inspire COs to do the job with pride.

“When I walk through the gates, I know what could possibly transpire inside,” Bellamy Creek Officer Mindi Vroman said. “Knowing that my family understands the importance of what I do and is behind me 100% keeps me motivated on the task ahead and anchored in doing the best job possible.”

MCO is dedicated to serving not just corrections officers, but their families. We know mandatory overtime is taking a toll on families, and we are constantly advocating for more staff. We are also developing a partnership with MDOC to help them not only recruit but retain corrections staff. All of us and our families depend on it.

When you go home after your shift, make time to connect with your family. After all, they’re the motivation for all that we do.

 

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Move Forward: Fulfilling our Purpose in Corrections

purposeIt’s no secret that criminal justice reform is sweeping the nation. From state legislatures to the halls of congress, legislation is being introduced everyday with an eye on decreasing the U.S. prison population and exploring new and different ways of preparing incarcerated individuals for life on the outside.

But in all of this reform, where are corrections officers? Just like “tough on crime” legislation during the 1980s and 90s set a tone for a generation of Americans, alternatives to incarceration and prison downsizing will define yet another.

One thing we know is true: as front line-staff, we must meet these changes head on and develop answers to key questions surrounding criminal justice reform. We must ask ourselves, what purpose do officers serve in this new environment? Are we currently filling a needed function? Do we have the tools necessary to achieve these proposed reforms? What dangers or concerns must be addressed? Is there room for corrections staff in the conversation?

This month’s value in the Move Forward campaign is Purpose.

To answer these questions, MCO has created and is leading a nation-wide campaign to bring the voices of corrections officers into the debate so we can be a vocal partner as these changes transform corrections. We’re calling this effort “One Voice.”

One Voice is made up of leading labor unions, corrections staff, criminal justice reform leaders, academics and policy makers with the goal of building bridges and advancing a unified approach to better inform the policies, programs and narratives that define criminal justice reform.

By collectively bringing all of these groups together, One Voice hopes to shift the conversation from debating the tensions between incarcerated individuals and corrections staff, to one that is centered on protecting the safety and interests of all who are impacted by the corrections system.

From issues like understaffing to overcrowding, corrections officers must have a meaningful influence on the policies that shape our nation’s criminal justice system. By injecting our expertise and point of view, we can ensure the safety, health, and security of all staff, inmates, and others impacted by criminal justice reform.

As stakeholders in these changes, we have a vested interest in seeing the best possible outcome and must fight to include our position, regardless of political agendas or party affiliation.

To aid in this campaign and make sure Michigan is heard loud and clear, we are asking members to fill out the One Voice survey, designed to guide MCO and One Voice on topics and issues important to corrections officers. All responses are anonymous and information will not be shared or used for anything outside the intended purposes of One Voice.

We understand that this survey will take some of your time; however, this is our chance to influence the conversation and inject our experience and knowledge into the state and national debate.  If we don’t act now, reform will end up happening to us, instead of with us.

Thanks, officers, for your help.

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The Value of Recognition

RecognitionFor correctional officers, recognition is rarely a motivating factor in performing one’s duties or acting to ensure the safety of an institution.

Recognition is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Throughout the campaign, we’ll introduce a shared value of our membership, accompanied by a unique poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Click poster at left to see it larger.

Across the state, you will find officers at every facility routinely administering lifesaving care, risking their own personal safety to protect others and acting to better the MDOC and enhance the work environment for all.

These actions, which often go unnoticed, must not be taken for granted in a profession that demands so much from its employees.

In Michigan, the “Correctional Officer of the Year” is the highest recognition an officer can receive, yet it is rarely sought out or promoted due to personal humility and strong feelings of simply doing ones duty.

This selflessness is also reflected on a national level.  A simple internet search would return very little in terms of awards and recognition for corrections officers yet many distinctions are bestowed upon others within the law enforcement community.

As union brothers and sisters, it is up to us to recognize the achievements of our colleagues and praise the quick thinking and heroic actions of our co-workers.  As an organization, MCO is taking definitive action to lift these qualities up and honor those who have earned the distinction at their facility of “Corrections Officer of the Year.”

For the first time ever, MCO will be issuing (separate from the MDOC) custom awards, created and designed to recognize the outstanding men and women who have proven, through their actions, to be of the utmost integrity and character.

Facility award winners will receive a customized wooden box, engraved with the MCO logo. The inside of the box will commemorate the award winner’s name, year and facility and include a custom coin created to honor this exceptional achievement.

The statewide officer of the year will receive a superior cast resin upright that sits exceptionally on a black painted wood base and is referenced on the RECOGNITION poster displayed at your facility.  Next to the male/female officer is a jade glass piece to recognize the awardee’s name and facility. Distinctively placed in front of the Male/Female officer is a cast resin piece that admirably displays the MCO logo.

Awards will be presented at the facility by MCO Chapter officials and we encourage all members to participate.  Like all corrections officers, these award recipients do a difficult job protecting the people of the state of Michigan and deserve our thanks.

 

 

 

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The Value of Character

CharacterYour character tells a story about who you are and where you’ve been. We’re not born with character – it’s instilled in us from a young age and shaped by our families and our experiences.

Character is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Throughout the campaign, we’ll introduce a shared value of our membership, accompanied by a unique poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Click poster at left to see it larger.

At the academy, our fellow recruits and trainers help us to develop our character as we learn the high standards required by a career in corrections. When we get to the institution, our supervisors, co-workers and mentors help us to sharpen those skills and bring character to all aspects of our work.

Character is vital because we must rely on each other when stressful or dangerous situations arise behind the walls.

“In a prison, we have to be vigilant and prepared, knowing that anything could happen at any time,” said CO Tim Fleury of Alger Correctional Facility. “If you have faith in your partner’s character, you know they’ll be at your side and have your back. That makes all the difference. We must have character because we are trusting each other with our lives.”

Why is character important to you? MCO wants to hear from you and lift up your stories. This is how we start to change the narrative on the corrections profession. Email MCO Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

 

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The Value of Honor

HonorPosterIn corrections, the term honor can take on many forms. From high standards to personal achievements, honor is regarded and sought after by every member of our profession.

To many, honor is earned and at times comes with great sacrifice. To acknowledge these contributions, honor is this month’s value in the Michigan Corrections Organization – Move Forward Campaign. Throughout the campaign, we’ll introduce a shared value of our membership, accompanied by a unique poster, every month until Labor Day 2018.

The honor poster depicts the Michigan Department of Corrections Honor Guard, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Honor Guard was formed in response to the slaying of corrections officers Josephine McCallum and Jack Budd.

After McCallum’s death in 1987, departmental leaders recruited then inspector Bruce Curtis to put together a paramilitary style unit that would represent the MDOC at her funeral. Young recruits were picked from the correctional officer training academy and practiced for less than a week before the service was held. Sadly, months later, the Honor Guard was again asked to step in and provide representation at the funeral of Officer Jack Budd who was tragically killed by an inmate at the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

Over 300 attended the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Officers Memorial, Sunday, May 7, 2017, in front of the MCO headquarters in Lansing. [Photo courtesy of MessageMakers]

Photo courtesy of MessageMakers.com.

Now Honor Guard members from across the state, many of whom are COs, console the families and co-workers of fallen corrections staff throughout the United States. They volunteer their personal time to show solemn gratitude for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

To read more about the history and service of the Michigan Honor Guard, click here.

Over 300 attended the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Officers Memorial, Sunday, May 7, 2017, in front of the MCO headquarters in Lansing. [Photo courtesy of www.MessageMakers.com]

Photo courtesy of www.MessageMakers.com.

At times, we in corrections may not always feel honored or appreciated but it’s up to us to respect each other, honor our accomplishments and encourage each other to strive for this noble distinction. By honoring our coworkers’ good deeds, as well as our own, we can begin to change the image of corrections and rewrite the narrative that is falsely depicted in television and movies. If we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for us.

Look for this honor poster and others in the series in your facility soon.

Have additional thoughts or a personal story about what honor means to you? Email Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org

 

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MCO: Gratitude amid Adversity

Corrections officers come from many different backgrounds and walks of life. But certain virtues – respect, humility, gratitude – unite them all.

In this video, Michigan Corrections Officer Jorge Miller talks about his gratefulness for the direction and values instilled in him by his parents, who passed away when he was a teenager.

These are some of the same values Michigan Corrections Organization is lifting up as part of Move Forward, MCO’s campaign to elevate corrections and forensic officers in the criminal justice system and celebrate MCO’s 50 years of advocacy. MCO is changing the narrative on corrections work by drawing attention to the diverse and professional work expected of the modern-day corrections officer.

Despite the adversity he faced, Officer Miller made good choices. Now, he’s a corrections officer setting an example for inmates and others.

“(When my mom died,) I told her that I was going to make something of myself and be someone someday, for her,” CO Miller said.

The day he graduated from the Michigan Department of Corrections Training Academy in the David Bergh class was a proud day for Miller. He said his primary focus in his new career is to custody and security. Beyond that, he hopes to guide inmates to prepare for release and reintegration into society.

Many Michigan corrections officers share a sense of thankfulness for their parents, mentors, coworkers, and others who encouraged them to make good choices and do the right thing even when it was a challenge.

CO Miller told MCO he’s fortunate he made good choices despite the loss of his parents. He credits a strong support system of family and friends.

“I’m very grateful and blessed,” he said.

Family friend Steve Reiger said Miller will make an excellent corrections officer.

“I think that in the future, the people of Michigan are going to have a lot more to see from Jorge Miller,” Reiger said.

There are many admirable Michigan corrections officers who are setting good examples for other staff, inmates, and their community. Do you or one of your coworkers have an inspirational story? MCO wants to hear from you and lift up your stories. This is how we start to change the narrative on corrections work. Email MCO Communications Director Anita Lloyd at anita@mco-seiu.org.

Michigan Corrections Organization/SEIU represents more than 6,500 corrections and forensic officers working at state prisons and at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

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MCO Introduces 50th Anniversary Logo

MCO 50_Color&Black webMCO is proud to reveal a special logo in recognition of our 50 years of service to Michigan corrections officers and forensic security staff.

“This logo symbolizes all the advances we’ve made for our members over the decades, and reminds us to look with hope toward our next 50 years,” said Andy Potter, MCO Vice President and Chief of Staff.  “Our membership numbers are the highest among state employee unions and we are engaging members about the issues important to them. After all these years, we are still solid, and we will carry on our legacy for future generations of members.”

MCO's 50th anniversary coin.

MCO’s 50th anniversary coin.

In honor of our anniversary, all members received a commemorative coin with the anniversary logo on front and the twelve professional values we integrate into our daily lives on back. Coins were mailed with the holiday package and we encourage each recipient to carry this coin and recall the foundation upon which MCO is built.

“I hope, when you look at this coin, you remember all the staff that came before you,” said MCO President Tom Tylutki. “As you hold it in your hand, I hope you understand what our founders knew: that when we work together, each of us is stronger than we would be on our own.”

MCO came into existence in 1968 when a group of corrections officers met to form an organization that would primarily focus on prison security and custody issues.Excellence

A lot has changed in 50 years. We should all be proud and humbled to say that what started as a grassroots effort by a group of concerned officers is still thriving.

As a part of our Move Forward campaign, look for this special gold and black logo on our website, social media channels and in publications throughout 2018.

This is more than a simple logo but a symbol of what we believe in and who we are as professionals and as colleagues.

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The Value of Sacrifice

SacrificeCorrections staff are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Prisons never close, and dangerous situations can unfold any time of the day or night. Corrections staff work holidays, weekends, and evenings. They routinely miss holidays, special events and moments with their families. In addition to regular shifts, many officers are mandated to work overtime, sometimes more than once a week, due to the staffing crisis.

That is why this month’s value in the Move Forward Campaign is sacrifice. Through the campaign, we’ll introduce a new value, accompanied by a values poster, every month until Labor Day 2018. Look for this sacrifice poster in your facility soon. Read more about Move Forward. (Click the poster image at left to see it larger.)

Every day when corrections staff go to work behind the walls, they make a sacrifice. Not only do they sacrifice their physical and mental health, but they sacrifice moments with their families and friends. Compounding this problem are officers’ irregular hours and forced overtime.

“It’s extremely difficult to be told, at the end of your shift, that you’re going to have to work another eight hours,” WHV CO Voncha Henderson said. “Officers must quickly make arrangements for childcare, cancel appointments, and back out of social events. This unexpected work really takes a toll on our mental and physical well-being. It’s especially disheartening when it happens around the holidays when everyone wants to be at home with family.”

While corrections staff aren’t the only profession to work long and irregular hours, they make the most of it because what they do matters across the state. They know that sacrifice is going above and beyond in their work place to make a positive impact on those incarcerated and their coworkers.

And, as always, let’s not forget that due to the unpredictable nature of this work, some corrections officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.

  • George Haight, a gate keeper, was poisoned by an inmate at the Michigan State Penitentiary in Jackson. End of watch: March 27, 1893.
  • Earl F. DeMarse, a corrections officer at the Marquette Branch Prison, was stabbed 15 minutes into his shift. End of watch: Sept. 25, 1973.
  • Josephine McCallum, a new employee, was found murdered at the bottom of a stairwell in the activities building of Jackson Central. End of watch: March 24, 1987.
  • Jack Budd passed away after being repeatedly stabbed by an inmate at the State Prison of Southern Michigan. End of watch: Dec. 27, 1987.

Read more about our fallen officers.

If you are off work around the holidays, please take a moment to think of the corrections staff sacrificing their bodies, minds, and time with their own families to keep Michigan safe.

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Listen: Move Forward on MDOC Field Days podcast

In this Field Days podcast, MCO staff talk about Move Forward, MCO’s campaign to promote corrections and forensic officers and the values and standards that set them apart in the criminal justice system. Listen to the podcast now.

Andy Potter, Vice President/Chief of Staff, and Jeremy Tripp, Government and Political Affairs Director, are interviewed. Thanks, MDOC, for promoting Move Forward!

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