Randy Liberty, Maine Department of Corrections Commissioner stands in front of his photo and story, featured in the Bangor Airport's new "Deconstructing Stigma" installation, unveiled Monday. Credit: Kathleen O'Brien

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Today, during National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, I pay tribute to Maine’s correctional officers and staff and recognize them as the transformational leaders they are.

Every day, correctional officers and correctional employees throughout the Maine Department of Corrections support, encourage, and empower residents to seek and to strive for personal redemption. Whether working in secure housing units, mental health units, or in a veteran’s unit, an MDOC employee is often the first, and most important healthy role model that many in our care and custody have had. We recognize the challenges officers and staff face as many of the residents in their care have mental health issues, substance use disorders, or a life with much trauma.

Correctional officers spend 8-12 hours a day on unit, with as many as 84 residents, building rapport and witnessing growth. They are the eyes and ears and the first responders, sometimes the only people who share in a residents’ joy and grief. Correctional staff are skilled problem solvers, mentors and coaches, leading the way for residents as they build progress in achieving their goals, like enrolling in and completing college degree programs, committing to recovery, tending to a thriving prison garden, training service dogs for people in need, developing marketable job skills, and nurturing the interpersonal skills that will prepare them for reentry. All of these efforts result in public safety through reduced recidivism and fewer future victims.

They are genuine public servants. Though often unseen, their work helps improve lives, create stronger communities, and ensure healthier families. I applaud each of them for their commitment to upholding the mission and core values of the Maine Department of Corrections: accountability, respect, integrity, teamwork, and commitment.

 

Randall A. Liberty

Commissioner

Maine Department of Corrections

Augusta