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Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington receives national award for vision and innovation in corrections

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Holly Kramer,



Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington receives national award for vision and innovation in corrections


Lansing, Mich. – Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington has been named the recipient of the 2018 Tom Clements Award for her vision and innovation in the corrections field.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Washington said. “The department’s focus on offender success has allowed us to make great strides in Michigan, and I’m grateful for the dedication of MDOC staff and their commitment to our mission. Our recidivism rate is now at a historic low, parolee employment is up, and our prisoner population is on the decline.”

Washington was recognized for her work to expand vocational training and educational opportunities for prisoners, particularly through the establishment of the department’s Vocational Village program. The Vocational Village is a first-of-its-kind skilled trades training program and immersive learning community, where prisoners can complete career and technical education in a number of high-demand fields including welding, CNC machining, robotics, automotive technology, building trades, masonry and commercial truck driving.

The department opened its first Vocational Village site at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia in 2016 and its second site at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson in 2017. A third site at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti is expected to open in 2019.

The department has also launched a number of initiatives designed to benefit employees and further improve outcomes for offenders.

“Director Washington’s work within the department has led to Michigan’s lowest-ever recidivism rate. And her passion for rehabilitating returning citizens is the reason why the Vocational Village program has been such a success,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “She has been a true leader for Michigan and this award is well deserved.”

The MDOC created new opportunities for training and professional development for staff, and enhanced employee inclusion in the department’s decision-making processes. In addition, it has launched new programs to divert high-risk probation violators from a path to prison and introduced new technology, including tablets, to help prisoners further their education.

The Tom Clements Award is presented annually by the Association of State Correctional Administrators, a group comprised of corrections leaders from across the country.

It was named for former Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements, who was killed in March 2013 and it recognizes corrections leaders who demonstrate innovation, as well as a commitment to the well-being of prisoners and correctional staff.

For more information on the Vocational Village visit