Staff Newsletter | May 2021

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missouri department of corrections

Employee Newsletter   |  May 2021

Pay Plan Passes General Assembly

Missouri House and Senate Approve Budget Proposal for Corrections Staff Pay Increases


A plan to increase the pay of all Missouri Department of Corrections staff has been approved by both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri State Senate with no changes.

Once the appropriations process for the entire budget has been completed, the house and senate bills will be sent to the Governor for his signature and the pay raises will go into effect July 1.

Supported by Governor Mike Parson, the plan calls for a 2% pay increase for all Missouri state government employees as well as additional increases (totaling 5.8% to 15%) for corrections staff in high-turnover positions, including some food service workers (Cook I, Cook II and Cook III) as well as corrections officers (CO I), sergeants (CO II) and lieutenants (CO III). 

This plan means a bigger paycheck for every member of the corrections team. It also means better staffing levels in many key positions, which will help to reduce mandatory overtime, lessen the strain on all team members and make our facilities safer. 

Governor Supports Justice Reinvestment

Mike Parson Meets with Probation & Parole Staff, Client, Treatment Partners


Last month probationer George Lanier, a graduate of the Improving Community Treatment Success (ICTS) program in Bolivar, sat down with fellow Bolivar resident Governor Mike Parson to discuss how the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative has helped him to stay out of prison, stay sober, find a job, get a driver’s license, become a better dad and build a better future. This official meeting was part of the Council of State Governments Face to Face initiative, but the two Bolivarians had crossed paths before, at the drive-thru of the Wendy's where Lanier works.


Governor Parson also took time to thank the team making transformations like Lanier's possible. District 10 N Probation and Parole Officer Sarah Cissell's confidence in Lanier and commitment to his recovery inspired him to make fundamental changes in his life. The empathy and advocacy of Peer Support Specialist Ambra Wittorff at the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change got him through rough patches. Lanier said a real turning point happened when the ICTS team came together to help him overcome a daunting obstacle: navigating a labyrinth of fines and violations in multiple states to get a valid driver's license. Their persistence showed Lanier they had faith in him and cared about his future.  "They really opened my eyes," he told the Governor.


The community behavioral health program ICTS (formerly the Justice Reinvestment Treatment Pilot) was launched in 2018 to provide comprehensive community-based services for people under MODOC supervision who have substance use disorders and/or co-occurring substance use disorders and mild to moderate mental illness, and are considered high risk for reoffending.Since then, it has expanded to a dozen counties and has helped more than 600 people access behavioral health treatment, housing, employment, transportation and other necessities.

Probation and Parole District 10N Supervisor JD Presswood and District Administrator James Long work ICTS magic in Polk County, with the support of Regional Administrator Tiffany Lomosi, Deputy Division Director Jamie Liakos and Division Director Julie Kempker.

April 2021 Employee of the Month


Sonya Engelking, a Probation & Parole Officer II in District 17 in St. Charles, regularly goes the extra mile. She serves as the employee liaison and the Connections to Success liaison for her office. She runs the District 17 Friends and Family Group. She also serves as a sex offender liaison, a role she committed to and prepared for with extensive training and research, adopting best practices for managing the caseload.

During a recent client visit, Engelking also was instrumental in deescalating a potentially volatile situation. It was discovered that a client with a history of violent crime had been using a device to substitute his urine during a drug test. Engelking faced the difficult task of discussing with the client his violation and the resultant sanctions, which caused him to become agitated. She expertly employed motivational interviewing (MI) techniques, incorporating verbal affirmation for the client, and was able to keep the client calm and ensure a good outcome. Her professionalism serves as a model for the corrections team.

Head of the Class

Danielle Owen

New Southeast Correctional Center (SECC) Corrections Officer Danielle Owen is the latest recipient of the Coin of Excellence in Training. Officer Owen was recognized her by peers and Eastern Region Training Center (ERTC) staff for excellence in attendance, appearance, class conduct and test scores. She had a perfect attendance record in academy training, scored 100% on all written exams and earned the popular vote among 43 fellow trainees. She is the second SECC staff member to earn training honors from ERTC.

Pomp & Circumstance

Staff Support Offender Program Completion

HISET Graduation

Thanks to the unwavering support of corrections staff who continue to make learning a high priority, graduation season is underway for offenders completing education programs.

Since the pandemic began, 10 offender-students at Southeast Correctional Center (SECC) have completed the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) program and passed the HiSET, with several earning scores higher than 83%. Probation and Parole staff made the accomplishment even more memorable. They helped set up SECC's first graduation live stream so that the graduates’ families could watch the ceremony and celebrate the big day. Statewide, our students have a 99% pass rate on the HiSET.


Three offenders at Boonville Correctional Center have graduated from Ashland University's Correctional Education Program with associate's degrees. Statewide, offenders can take college courses using JPay tablets and earn degrees in general studies, applied communication and interdisciplinary studies, with concentrations in business, sociology and more. Students get support from site directors, such as Keener Tippin (second from left), and our dedicated MODOC education staff.

Higher Education Expansion

Washington University

With funding from a recent Carnegie Mellon grant, Washington University plans to expand the Prison Education Project (PEP) to two MODOC facilities. The grant will help establish a LaunchCode technical training program at Potosi Correctional Center and expand Wash U programs to Vandalia. PEP has offered in-person university courses to staff and offenders at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) since 2014. In 2019, MECC hosted the first PEP graduation, with 10 offender-students earning associate's degrees.

Taking the Show on the Road

Division of Human Services Visits Work Sites

Representatives from the Division of Human Services plan to visit Department of Corrections facilities and offices this summer to keep administrative teams informed about division functions, with an emphasis on the "services" part of their name. Dubbed the "DHS Roadshow," the series of visits will give the DHS team the chance to explain what they can do for you   from expanded staff training and wellness programs to talent management and construction projects. Stay tuned for details.

Spirtual Matters

Changing Lives


Before being released from incarceration in late April, an offender at Algoa Correctional Center wanted to say goodbye to Officer Charles Asare and thank him. Officer Asare asked the offender if he could say a prayer for him to be successful and safe while transitioning back into community. Warden Kelly Morris captured the moment just one example of the significant impact staff have on the lives of offenders.

A Calling


Missouri Department of Corrections Chaplains. Front, from left: Tom Estes-TCC, Marty Sykes-WRDCC, Nevin Curtis-WMCC, Preston Davis-CTCC & FRDC, Jeff Anderson-ACC, Lonnie Collins-SCCC, Steve Johnson-SECC, Tristram McCormack-BCC, Greg Murphy-CCC. Back, from left: David Machon-JCCC, Gene Abrams-FCC B-side, Thomas Reagan-ERDCC, Aaron Davis-OCC, Murray Phillips-NECC, Tommy Barnhart-WERDCC, Matthew Mason-KCRC, Mark Wilkinson-PCC, Doug Worsham-Supervisor Religious and Spiritual Programming, Tom Brack-MCC, Mark Dean-FCC. Not pictured: John Essary-MECC

Missouri Department of Corrections chaplains met recently for fellowship and to plan priorities for the coming fiscal year. What exactly does their work entail? Kansas City Reentry Center Chaplain Matt Mason shares this description of prison chaplaincy in Holiness Today:

Prison chaplains are different things to different people. Chaplains are comforters, pastors, teachers, counselors, advisors, administrators and confidants. They are creative and understanding as they demonstrate God’s grace and love in ministering to people of differing faiths and cultures in very restrictive settings.

Chaplains advise correctional staff on religious issues, provide spiritual counseling to inmates, provide religious literature to inmates of all faiths, and provide offenders being released with resources that can help them in their transition. They also maintain spiritual programming files, submit monthly reports on all group activity and attendance, and supervise inmates assigned to assist the chaplain.

Chaplains listen to the angry, the frightened, the lonely, the poor, and all those who are hurting in one way or another. Chaplains are called to remember that no matter the crime, human dignity has not been forfeited and we should recognize and respect each person. We understand that even inmates are valued by God. A prison chaplain does more than just give away Bibles and pray for people. He or she challenges offenders to address the often ignored spiritual issues deep inside.

Read the full article »

Show-Me Challenge

Proposals for Innovations Due to Division Directors June 1

DOC leakbusters

The next Missouri state government Show Me Challenge cycle is open! Modeled after the reality show Shark Tank, the Show Me Challenge is designed to highlight state employees’ innovative and creative ideas for ways to simplify state government, save the state money and/or improve the citizen experience.

In 2019, a Department of Corrections team won the Cycle 2 Show-Me Challenge with a new approach to managing water inside correctional institutions that promises to improve the safety and security of the state’s institutions while saving money and staff time for the department.

MODOC teams are encouraged to participate in Cycle 5. Anyone who wants to compete should submit their pitches to their division director, via the chain of command, no later than June 1, 2021, to ensure any project submitted is sustainable and to help teams get any assistance they might need in completing this extensive, research-intensive process.

Details at

Staff Satisfaction on the Rise

Quarterly Pulse Survey Shows Improvements in Organizational Health

According to the most recent quarterly pulse survey, staff throughout the department report improvements in sense of direction, engagement, leadership and professional development.

Statewide, 52% of Missouri state government employees participated in the January-February 2021 Quarterly Pulse Survey. In the Missouri Department of Corrections, 53% participated.

During a very challenging year, the department has continued to make progress. Our shared sense of direction has improved by 3% since July of 2020 and by 17% since 2018. Engagement has increased by 1% since July of 2020 and by 12% since 2018. Staff confidence in leadership has improved by 2% since July and by 9% since 2018. The department has improved by 1% in professional development since July and by 6% since 2018.

The most recent survey included questions about COVID-19 and pandemic-related stress. Across the state, 78% of staff reported that their organizations have kept them informed about COVID and its implications for their work. At the same time, more than half reported feeling stress related to COVID, regardless of role or work location.

For COVID-related help, please be sure to access the resources available:

Also be sure to check out the wellness resources available to all members of the MODOC team at Watch this video for more information about pulse survey results.

Take the Survey

The next pulse survey, covering accountability, motivation and external orientation, is available through May 7. You should have received a link to the survey in an email message titled "We need your input" sent from "The State of Missouri QPS Team." Please take a moment to complete the survey and provide important feedback that helps make the department better.

Vax Facts

Peer Persuasion

offender vax video

All Missourians age 16 and older, including all residents of Missouri Department of Corrections facilities, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. As of May 1, 10,795 offenders, or 47% of the statewide offender population, had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

To help encourage their peers to get vaccinated, offender media teams at Jefferson City Correctional Center and Chillicothe Correctional Center put together this video, filled with vax facts as well as testimonials from those who have gotten the shot. Watch the video»

Vaccines & Visits

visiting room

Beginning June 1, adult institutions will take the first step toward resuming a regular visiting schedule by opening visiting to all offenders who have been fully vaccinated. Offenders are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Visitors are not required to be vaccinated.

The vaccination requirement is not permanent; it is the first step toward reopening regular visiting. As more offenders get the vaccination and COVID conditions improve, regular visiting will resume for everyone, including those who have not been vaccinated.

Restrictions will be in place in the visiting room, including requiring face covers, limiting visiting rooms to 50% capacity and screening visitors for COVID symptoms. For details on new visiting procedures, see the chief administrative officer at your worksite.

Sip on This


To thank the thousands of Missouri Department of Corrections team members who have chosen to protect themselves, their teams and their communities by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the department is distributing these cool tumblers, each featuring the MODOC shield and the message that its bearer has joined the vaccinated club.

To get yours, present your vaccination card at your work site.

Every corrections staff member who has not yet been vaccinated is still eligible and can still make an appointment to get the shot through vaccination events, pharmacies or health care providers.

How does the vaccine work? Get the facts and watch the videos at

Wellness Webinars


Take time to take care of yourself! The Missouri Department of Mental Health offers 30-minute webinars addressing wellness, mindfulness, stress management and coping skills, helping Missourians develop strategies for dealing with difficult times.

DMH CARES is offered 3-4 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Register online.

Watch past DMH Cares webinars.

Learn more about Show-Me Hope Missouri:

Strategic Plan

Stratetic Plan - February 2021

What are we doing? Where are we going? What does it mean for you and your job?

We’re making big progress in our three focus areas: workplace safety, workforce development and reducing risk and recidivism.

Take a look at our strategic plan and initiatives for the latest updates on the department's priorities.


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

R-E-S-P-E-C-T in M-O-D-O-C


We're working hard to recruit and retain staff and to make  our department a great place to work. Demonstrating respect for coworkers builds a positive work environment. 


Encourage coworkers to share ideas, and then listen.

Don't engage in insults or name-calling.

Be mindful and accepting of cultural differences.