David W.

FCCP Coordinator
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

David found his way into corrections in 1991,when he took a job as a correctional officer at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) in McAlester, Okla., after a move from Texas to Oklahoma. From 1992-2002, David served as correctional officer I-IV, correctional counselor, and correctional case manager I and II at OSP. He then served as administrative programs officer, procedure officer and unit manager at the Oklahoma State Reformatory (OSR), an all-male, medium-security facility in Granite, Okla., from 2002-2009.

The Faith and Character Community Program (FCCP) came to OSR in 2006, when ODOC undertook an initiative to implement a faith-based housing unit program. The program was designed with two goals in mind: “To effectively manage the behavior of longtime offenders by providing opportunities for behavioral change through faith and secular programming; and to positively impact the environment of the prison facility and motivate offenders, thus reducing the recidivism rate,” David said.

In November 2009, David became FCCP coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) Treatment and Rehabilitation Unit. In his current position, David is responsible for planning, developing and directing the faith-based program at OSR. He implements all rules, regulations and laws of the program, and develops all program goals, activities,
curriculum and procedures. He is also responsible for planning, developing and conducting training seminars, meetings or presentations to the public, volunteers or staff, as well as managing the program budget, staff and resources.

To be admitted to the program, several criteria are considered: length of stay, offender level and mental health status. According to David, primary consideration for the program is given to offenders who have 3,500 days or more of their sentence remaining. Applicants with fewer days on their sentence are considered on an individual basis to ensure that the offender will have enough time to complete the program. Offenders at all custody classification levels are considered for the program. “However,offenders at level one are considered on a case-by-case basis, with no more than five percent of the program population at level one,” David said. Offenders must also be at one of the three lower mental health status levels (zero, A or B), and those with more severe mental illnesses, such as mental retardation, are considered individually.

“The program consists of several two-core curriculums and several ancillary curriculums,” David explained. The core curriculums consist of 51 character bulletins which teach inmates about basic character traits such as personal responsibility, personal security and confidence. The inmates learn how to identify high- and low-risk situations, and how to approach and solve problems. The program is 12-15 months in length, and inmates spend up to 30 hours per week with the group. As of May 2013, there were 103 participants with 16 inmate peer facilitators. Since 2009, more than 230 offenders have graduated from FCCP.

A significant aspect of the program is community service and outreach Under David’s guidance, inmates complete projects for the local communities to teach them about the importance of giving back. These include projects such as the creation of artwork and holiday decorations for local schools and nursing homes, and sign painting and guitar painting for a local music festival to raise money for schools. The community service aspect of the program has been so successful that local organizations and businesses frequently request FCCP’s assistance on various projects.

Though the program is still in its early stages of implementation, David believes the program is making a difference in the lives of OSR inmates. “There is enough evidence to conclude that there is a significant decrease in misconduct reports written on participants of the program, compared to the rest of the offenders at the facility,” he said. This transformation in behavior is what David most enjoys about his work with FCCP. David’s dedication to these offenders is evident to those around him. “[David’s] passion to make a difference, leadership in offender programs, and contributions to the facility’s improvements are his record of exceptional performance,” Tracy McCollum, warden III at OSR, said.

Written by Kate Shaw and appeared in July/August 2013 Corrections Today
posted with permission from ACA.
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