After 31 years of service with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), William is well known as an operations expert throughout the state, and his knowledge has been used around the world. William started his career as a correctional officer at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, Texas, in 1981, just three days after his high school graduation. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology and corrections from Sam Houston State University. William has held every supervisory- level position in the ranks and worked in eight different facilities throughout Texas.
Today, William is deputy director of prisons and state jails for TDCJ, overseeing the daily operational aspects of Texas’ 95 state-operated correctional facilities and approximately 33,000 staff members. He also guides the agency’s efforts to provide care and rehabilitative services to the state’s 140,000 offenders. “I am very honored to be in my current position,” William said. “God has blessed me many times through the years by providing me excellent supervisors, mentors and employees.”
“Each day I am amazed at the hard work, dedication and professionalism the correctional staff exhibit. They have a very thankless job and do not receive much recognition for their public service. Many people do not realize the stress and danger our correctional staff go through each and every day,” he continued. “In spite of these dangers, thousands and thousands of courageous personnel enter our facilities daily and uphold the public’s expectations.”
In October 2012, William traveled with two other corrections professionals to the United Arab Emirates to provide training to the country’s corrections personnel. William presented a curriculum on searches for contraband. For two weeks, the group trained front-line staff and supervisors with classroom discussion and hands-on demonstrations. “It was very interesting that even though we are thousands of miles apart geographically, we share common challenges when it comes to contraband interdiction. While their culture presents some challenges to conducting thorough body pat searches and strip searches, the Emirates were very eager and open to our instructions,” said William, who is a member of the American Correctional Association and a board member of the Texas Corrections Association.
In addition to operations, much of William’ job is focused on educating all staff on their responsibilities relating to transforming individuals in the correctional system prior to release. He and his team have played a key role in the massive expansion of rehabilitative and reentry programs throughout the agency in recent years. “William works closely with all areas of our agency to include rehabilitation programs, reentry and parole. He also routinely assists outside law enforcement agencies and communities; he is always professional, accessible and operationally focused and truly represents the best of our profession,” Brad Livingston, executive director of TDCJ, said.
TDCJ offers more than 1,000 programs for offenders, ranging from educational, substance abuse, sex offender, life skills, faith-based and reentry — many of which are volunteer-led. Recently, TDCJ implemented an administrative segregation pre-release program to prepare offender participants for transition from the administrative segregation environment to living in their respective communities and leading a productive lifestyle. The program, which has a capacity for 197 offenders, is comprised of three primary phases which provide programmatic components that foster increased motivation for positive change; improved living, occupational and coping skill sets; and better self-awareness, discipline and decision-making.
“These programs are so important to fulfilling our mission, which is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society and assist victims of crime,” William said. “Up to 70,000 offenders are released from Texas prisons each year. It only makes sense to provide them resources so that they can be successful and productive citizens. We must always be mindful that they could be our neighbors one day.”