Staff Newsletter | September 2020

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missouri department of corrections

Employee Newsletter   |  September 2020

Celebrating Corrections

New National Video Features MODOC Staff

CLA: Better Together

A new Correctional Leaders Association video includes behind-the-scenes views of the Missouri Department of Corrections.

A new video released by the Correctional Leaders Association (CLA) pays tribute to the exceptional work done by corrections professionals throughout the United States. 

In sections about strong teams, effective offender programs and forward-thinking leadership, the video celebrates the profession of corrections, taking a look at day-to-day work in states including Missouri, Alabama, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.

Watch the video »

Last month Director Anne Precythe was elected president of the CLA, for which she has served on the executive committee since 2018. In her new role, she leads an organization that advocates for corrections professionals, supports departments, and influences policies and practices that affect public safety. 

The organization is made up of more than 60 members representing corrections leadership in each U.S. state and territory as well the federal system, military corrections, and major U.S. city correctional systems — all working together to make us better.

Probation & Parole Pioneers

Division Launches New Remote Work Plan

As state government agencies adapt to pandemic-driven changes, the trailblazing Division of Probation and Parole is paving the way for smart remote-work practices. A new process-improvement plan developed by staff and approved by Directors Julie Kempker and Anne Precythe is ready for the implementation stage.

After months finding innovative client-supervision solutions — ranging from video conferencing and phone calls to drive-up parking-lot meetings and in-office visits — in May, the division formed the P&P Remote Work Team, chaired by District 22 Administrator Darrin Tipton (pictured).

Working together remotely through Zoom meetings and email, the team embarked on a thorough evaluation of other organizations’ remote-work best practices, examined P&P’s particular strengths and challenges and, by July, had developed a set of recommendations encompassing:  

  • New or Revised Policy and Procedures
  • Remote Work Application and Agreement Form
  • Remote Work Inventory Checklist
  • Video Consent Agreement
  • Supervision Report Form
  • Recommended Supervisor Reviews
  • Case Management Reports Explanations
  • Solutions to Paper-Based Processes
  • Recommended MO Learning Courses for Remote Workers

“This workgroup is a perfect example of excellence,” Probation & Parole Director Julie Kempker told the team. “The content covered everything and was wrapped in a clean, organized package with a bow! Thank you for the time you spent and providing an excellent product.”

The project is an example of statewide efforts to make government better for Missourians.

Rollout meetings will be held in the coming weeks, with new and updated procedures and forms going into effect Oct. 15. District standard operating procedures and video consent agreement forms must be finalized by Dec. 15.

Setting the Standard

Here and Now

Though COVID-19 outbreaks continue to challenge us, MODOC staff stand as a statewide and national model for identifying, tracking and containing the virus. Thanks to facility teams' masterful coordination, MODOC has the most aggressive COVID testing strategy of all state departments of corrections in the United States and, as a result, an infection rate below the national average and lower than that of seven of Missouri's eight bordering states.

Recognizing these successes, the National Public Radio show 'Here and Now " recently invited Director Anne Precythe to discuss the department's success at avoiding the type of major facility-wide outbreaks other prison systems face — an accomplishment attributed to staff. 

MODOC teams also have set the bar for staff in state government. In the coming weeks, State of Missouri employees in all agencies will begin COVID-19 surveillance testing to help make the workforce safer. Participants in this new undertaking gain knowledge from corrections staff experiences and draw inspiration from MODOC enthusiasm and teamwork.  

For updates on COVID-19-related resources and benefits for state government staff, consult the Office of Administration website »

Bumper Crop

Abundant Restorative Justice Gardens Feed Missourians


The Missouri Bootheel, home of Southeast Correctional Center, is known for prolific watermelon production. Not to be outdone, by August, SECC's Restorative Justice team had grown and harvested more than 5,060 pounds, or 2.5 tons, of watermelons, which have been donated to the Southeast Missouri Food Bank.

jccc produce

Under the direction of Restorative Justice Coordinator Kevin Yancey, by August, men at Jefferson City Correctional Center had invested 529 volunteer gardening hours and harvested 3,142 pounds of produce for organizations including the Samaritan Center, Salvation Army Jefferson City, Union Hill Baptist Church and the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. The bounty includes cucumbers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, watermelon, corn, green peppers, squash, beans and zucchini. 

In August, the Western Missouri Correctional Center Restorative Justice team donated 3,345 pounds of produce including squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peppers, green beans and cabbage to the Cameron Community Cupboard, Cameron Food Pantry and Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City. Restorative Justice also donated 100 masks to the Cameron Regional Medical Center. 

potosi garden

Last month the Restorative Justice Garden at Potosi Correctional Center yielded enormous summer squashes, cucumbers, zucchinis and ears of corn. The Potosi team donated more than 1,500 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits to local food banks and other organizations that help children, seniors and families.


Employees of the Month

Home to two 2020 department-wide employees of the month, Algoa Correctional Center held a luncheon last month to honor team members Meryl Miller and Ethan Schenk. Division of Adult Institutions Director Jeff Norman and Deputy Director Michelle Kasak treated the group to lunch and presented awards to both exceptional employees.  

March 2020 Employee of the Month

Meryl miller

Meryl Miller, institutional activities coordinator at Algoa Correctional Center, helps Missourians get jobs. Fully embracing the department’s mission of improving lives for safer communities, Miller builds relationships with employers, arranges job interviews for offenders nearing release, and then prepares candidates for both the interview and the transition to post-incarceration employment. He has even brought hiring managers to Algoa to meet with prospective employees. This year, Miller has aided people leaving prison to start new careers with employers such as Delong’s manufacturing and Saint Louis University.

July 2020 Employee of the Month


Ethan Schenk, a Corrections Officer I at Algoa Correctional Center, does what it takes to keep his facility safe. While working as a sally port, program security and maintenance officer, Schenk has used his powers of perception to spot both contraband and suspicious activity, intervening to protect his teammates and the people in their care. He also is known to work outside his regular shift whenever he is needed— more than 100 times — to alleviate strain on his team.

Growing Family

Division of Adult Institutions New Teammates


Congratulations to the newest members of the Missouri Department of Corrections family! 


A new group of trainees the Western Region Training Center graduated this month, ready to make corrections stronger. “It’s been an amazing experience," new Western Missouri Correctional Center Corrections Officer I Isisah Jernigan (pictured) told his classmates at graduation. "Stay disciplined, determined and dedicated.”

Welcome: Chillicothe Correctional Center Officers Bradley Mosier and Julianne Walton; Kansas City Reentry Center Officer Suzette Stephens; Maryville Treatment Center Officers Taylor Jahnke, Brendon Jenkins and Lori Williams; Western Missouri Correctional Center Officers Brett Adams, Luke Baker, Gwendolen Beasley, Joshua Borders, Caspian Howell, Isisah Jernigan, Garret Widner and Judy Wilson; and Western Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center Officers Evelyn Alexander, Kristina Cook, Cody Daise, Jacob Diekamp, Mikal Fitzpatrick, Deven Hays, William Manning, Kristie Nordbye, Michael Sipes, Jonathon Smith and Nathan Woodruff.

Division of Probation & Parole New Teammates

p-p summer graduation

Congratulations to the latest probation and parole training graduates! Pandemic protocols have pared down graduation ceremonies, but Probation and Parole Assistant Division Director Kimberly Hubbard-Stewart and Deputy Division Director Jaime Liakos were on hand to congratulate the class when they completed training requirements recently at the Western Region Training Center.

Big welcome to: District 4W Probation & Parole Officer I Jo Nichols; District 5 Probation & Parole Officers I Heather Nichols and Christy Birch; District 24 Probation & Parole Officers I Jody Young and Wardine Williams; District 32 Probation & Parole Officer II Jonathan Preslar; PWRDCC Probation & Parole Officers II Anna Fix and Sean Hardee; and District 2 Probation & Parole Officer II Jonathan Hasker.

Golfing for Good


To give Nodaway County kids happier holidays, in August, Maryville Treatment Center's Lieutenant James Duncan, Maintenance Worker Jefferson Davis, Corrections Officer I Joseph Bolling and Training Officer Ryan Spire teamed up in the Putting for Presents Golf Tournament. The tournament raises money for Santa Cops for Kids, an annual event in which area law enforcement and public safety professionals take low-resource kids on a holiday shopping spree.

Corrections professionals from throughout the state took part in the annual Missouri 10-33 Benevolent Fund Golf Tournament. The statewide 10-33 fund helps to support the spouses and children of public safety officers who have lost their lives in the line of service. The tournament raised $11,500 — and brought in an additional $125 through the silent-auction sale of a golf-theme quilt donated by WERDCC's Restorative Justice program. Teams from FRDC, OCC, ACC and the Training Academy made a good showing, and a team from the Office of the Director took home the first-place prize.

Charitable Campaign

MSECC Banner

This year's Missouri State Employees Charitable Campaign (MSECC) drive dates have been set for October 7-21. The annual unified fundraising effort gives state employees the opportunity to make donations to their favorite charitable organizations through the convenience of payroll deduction or one-time gifts. All staff should have received an email from the Office of Administration about the campaign and a new online giving option available this year through the ESS Portal for  payroll deduction. Fundraising events are held at Department of Corrections work sites throughout the state. 

Fiscal Year 2021 Strategic Plan

screen shot -strat plan

Stay up to date on the department's priorities. A new Strategic Plan section of the department website gives detailed descriptions of each strategic initiative. Review completed initiatives and accomplishments, see what's underway in the current fiscal year, and get monthly updates on our progress. Stay tuned for a new video describing how our three main goals — safer workplaces, workforce development and reduced risk and recidivism — operate together to make us stronger.

September MO Learning Challenge


MO Learning, powered by LinkedIn Learning, isn't just a a great tool for job training and professional development. It also can help you manage stress. 

During the month of September, the Staff Training & Development team invites you to participate in the September Back to Learning challenge. The content this month is focused on the elective "Managing Stress for Positive Change." Challenge yourself to complete each day’s short task or video, which can be done in less than 5 minutes per day. Click on each day’s link in the September calendar to go to your learning site. When you are done, you will have completed the “Managing Stress for Positive Change” elective course for training credit.

Please use Google Chrome as your browser when using LinkedIn.

Get started »

Staff Wellness

Preventing Pandemic Panic

During the public health crisis, taking care of yourself can help you better cope with stress and anxiety.

  • Plan ahead to feel more in control.
  • Unplug from devices and be more in the moment. Multiple screens giving you constant updates can drain your energy and decrease your cognitive load substantially. Take a break. 
  • Prioritize good sleep. Well-rested people are healthier and more equipped to cope with stress.
  • Exercise and eat well. Avoid sugar and processed foods. Use a printable smart shopping grocery list and smart snacking checklist to help you make good choices effortlessly.
  • Get your body moving for better circulation and overall well-being. Having a consistent exercise routine increases energy levels. Even a simple 10-minute routine can help.

Fighting Isolation

Isolation is difficult. As naturally social creatures, we crave interactions and the freedom to travel. With constant reminders avoid close contact with people outside our households, it’s natural that we might feel anxious, isolated and frustrated. You might even experience grief over missing out on an event or celebration you were looking forward to. Managing that grief in a healthy way is important.

The following tips can help you and your household maintain your health and well-being during these challenging times.

  • Stay in touch. Check in with loved ones. Ask how they’re doing, and tell them how you’re doing. Don’t keep stress to yourself.
  • Commit to a routine, and stay active.
  • Focus on the positives in your life.
  • Devote time to hobbies that you enjoy doing and share them with others.
  • Seek out sunlight, fresh air and nature.
  • Keep your mind stimulated. 


Improving Lives for Safer Communities


Excellence in Corrections for a Safer Missouri


We value safe work environments, a capable workforce and reduced risk and recidivism.
We value integrity and respect.
We value supportive leadership.
We value employee participation and teamwork.

Staff News

Help Your Teammates Know Their Value

Corrections Way - VALUE

We're working hard to make the Missouri Department of Corrections a great place to work, where everyone understands what they mean to the team. Awards are a wonderful way to help staff feel valued, but there's more we can do every day to show how important each person is to what we do.


  • Give appreciative feedback.
  • Recognize individual strengths.
  • Remember the vital role you play in supporting the department's mission.