The National Institute for Jail Operations (NIJO) is pleased to announce that several individuals were recently recognized for their commitment and dedication to the corrections profession. NIJO Executive Director, Tate McCotter, presented the Southern Region Corrections Professionals Awards at an Awards Luncheon held in conjunction with JAILCON23 Southern Regional Conference, on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Gulf Shores, Alabama. In addition to these awards, McCotter also recognized agencies and individuals who had earned NIJO National Accreditation and Professional Certification.
NIJO wishes to extend our congratulations to the following award recipients.
2023 SOUTHERN REGION CORRECTIONS PROFESSIONALS AWARDS
HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR AWARD
Christy Miller, Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, AL
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Christy Miller is responsible for assessing the mental health status of inmates confined in the Mobile County Metro Jail. She studies relevant health history, performs comprehensive psychiatric evaluations, and identifies risks to diagnose the inmate’s mental illness and then treat that illness. With her knowledge she is able to put inmates on therapy and prescription medication regimens to improve their mental health. She provides support and education to families in the community. Her responsibilities are both emotionally and mentally demanding. It requires a broad set of professional skills mastered over the course of their careers that allow these NPs to manage their stress and workload while providing a high-level of care. NP Miller deisplays professionalism, shows respect, tact, and sensitivity while communicating with inmates and their families. Her way of establishing trust with inmates enables them to confide in her while maintaining organizational values and acting as an advocate for those coping with mental illness. Determining the scope and specifics of mental illness can be difficult because signs are not always clear. NP Miller is able to synthesize diverse data and with patience research adapt for inmate care. She comes expeditiously when called upon and labors with inmates during their crisis and has a way of calming down the most emotionally unstable inmate. She goes above and beyond to make the inmates feel worthy and essential.
DETENTION OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Dell Kubler, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, GA
Deputy First Class Dell Kubler serves as the Grievance Officer for the Forsyth County Jail. He recognizes the importance of maintaining a formal process for inmates to address complaints and other concerns while incarcerated. Along with the duties of Grievance Officer, Deputy Kubler has taken on the responsibility of assisting the agency accreditation manager with maintaining the highly coveted National Institute of Jail Operations Level One Accreditation. He works extra hours without complaint and with the goal of maintaining 100% compliance with all applicable standards. The duties of Grievance Officer and Accreditation Management require daily attention to detail and consistent communication with staff and Senior Command. Deputy Kubler’s demeanor is very calm, informative, and reassuring even when the topic at hand may be extremely important to maintaining compliance with policies and accreditation standards. He is excellent at accomplishing the task at hand in a stress-free manner which is always appreciated by staff. Said his captain, “When you meet and work with Deputy Dell Kubler you will see professionalism, calm, confidence and a genuine concern for the efficient, safe and orderly operation of the Forsyth County Jail.”
DETENTION SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Earl Leonard, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, MS
Lieutenant Leonard retired from the Army in 1999 and became a corrections officer in January 2003. He worked his way up the chain of command and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on February 15, 2007. He is highly regarded and respected by Deputies and inmates. He encourages and instructs subordinates and inmates alike. He recently was the 1st Lieutenant to start working extra hours to help with the staff shortage of Deputies, leading by example. He returned to the trenches as if he was starting over as a Deputy. He works beside them and supports them all professionally and personally, which means a lot to them. Lieutenant Leonard is an example to other Supervisors in understanding exactly what it means to care and be a leader for subordinates. He is a hard worker willing to do anything to make the jail run smoothly. He is very dedicated to the mission of care, custody, and control of staff, inmates, and public.
DETENTION ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Randall Denzer, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, AR
DETENTION FACILITY INNOVATION AWARD
LaFourche Parish Correctional Complex Programming & Re-Entry Services, LA
After decades of using an older, outdated facility, Sheriff Craig Webre and his team brought a sales tax proposal before the public in 2014 to fund a new correctional facility. The voters overwhelmingly supported the proposal as it passed with nearly 70% of the vote. Over 95% of all those incarcerated are eventually released, and the mission of the Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex is to return better, more productive citizens to society. In addition to the re-entry programming, the following have occurred within the facility:
- Poetry contests and art competitions for inmates
- Partnerships with colleges and universities to provide opportunities for offenders to complete their college degree/certificate and participate in unique programs such as Inside/Out
- Regular reentry classes such as Thinking for a Change, Anger Management, and Prerelease, special voluntary impact classes have been created to include Creative Writing, Understanding Depression, Dealing with Anxiety, and Surviving Trauma and PTSD.
- A Medically Assisted Treatment program to address opioid addiction
- LPSO caught national attention with its “White Flag Project’’ for National Victims Awareness Week and Second Change Month. Each inmate created a white flag and wrote heartfelt messages of remorse and sorrow for their past acts. The inmates planted the hundreds of flags across the front lawn of the correctional complex to signify their willingness to renounce their past and strive for a new future.
DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE AWARDMost of the nominations this year discussed their nominee’s loss of overtime earned due to pulling extra shifts. Understanding these dynamics, we recognize there are many that qualify for this award. Because of this, two recipients were selected for this award in 2023.
Major Robert Sowell, Spalding County Sheriff's Office, GA
Major Robert Sowell began the position of Spalding County Jail Administrator on January 1, 2017. Major Sowell was selected by Sheriff Dix because of his reputation for excellence. While working for the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Major Sowell has revised the Detention S.O.P.s to be current and comprehensive. He updated the inmate handbook and inmate orientation to help create order for the inmates and staff. Major Sowell recognizes the importance of training and has created training opportunities for Detention Deputies to have a career path in Detention or other divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Major Sowell has partnered with National Institute for Jail Operations to have training available for all deputies on a multitude of topics. Obtaining the NIJO Professional Certification will not only create a better trained Deputy, but will prepare them for promotion while reducing agency liability. In addition to Deputy training, Major Sowell recognizes the need for offering education opportunities to inmates and he found a vendor to provide the education and training. This training has resulted in many inmates participating and leaving our facility to find employment or continue their education. We are certain this will have an effect on recidivism. Per Sheriff Dix, “Major Sowell’s character and work ethic is a valuable asset to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.”
William Randolph, White County Sheriff's Office, TN
Capatin Will Randolph is the Assistant Jail Administrator for the White County Sheriff's Office in Sparta, NT. He is certified in CIT, Defensive Tactics and is an OC Instructor. William Randolph is known for always serving others and wanting to help everyone around him. Since October 2022 he has been working on a project to get mental health treatment inside the White County Jail. Through countless hours of work by him the county was awarded a grant to bring this treatment to the inmates. This grant allows White County Jail to partner with South Central Tennessee Work Alliance and gets a counselor and case manager to give the treatment that has been in dire need for a long time given that county jails and facilities all across the state are in fact turning into "mental treatment facilities". This type of grant partnership with SCTWA is the first of it's kind within the 13th Judicial District. Major Kevin Benton, Jail Administrator for White County Jail said this of Captain Randolph: "Knowing Will is a pleasure--we are very lucky and fortunate to have him on staff here. He is a selfless man that loves his job and would tell you that he wouldn't be in the position he is without me. Honestly though, I wouldn't be in the position I am without people like Will. His hard work and dedication to the field of corrections is second to none."
NIJO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S AWARD
Dr. Stephen Sampson
Psychologist, Sampson Testing & Training
Dr. Steve Sampson has been teaching social intelligence, and leadership skills for over 45 years. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts (1970) and a Masters (1976) and Doctoral Degree (1981) in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University. He is a nationally recognized Master Trainer in Interpersonal Communication Skills since 1977, and has presented that training to over 300 agencies and organizations in 40 states. He is a former Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University from 1979 to 1985. In 2004, he retired from his position as a Clinical Professor in the Counseling Psychology at Georgia State University (1995-2004). He recently retired as Executive-in-Residence Professor at the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University (2009-2016) where he developed an Institute for Social Intelligence and Leadership.