BJA 2023 Spotlight, Michigan

Cherry Taylor serves as a Training Officer at the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC.) She has been with the department for three years and “could not be happier” with her job. With an Arts and Science degree and experience lecturing at the college level, Cherry is comfortable training.

Today’s challenges in corrections often revolve around retention and recruitment. Keeping employees happy, like Cherry, helps keep employees long-term Cherry helped find ways to demonstrate to employees that they are valued and support them in their positions. One of the first ideas was a forum that focused on female employees. It was developed by Lennie Alcorn of the Wellness Team, and Cherry has been passed the torch to continue this highly successful initiative. The New Women in Corrections forum fosters a safe space to network and gain peer support.

Success was illustrated by the change in culture within the academy setting. The professional relationships cultivated through the program continue after the academy offers long-term support where people check on each other, obtain advice, get support, and celebrate milestones together. Current staff members who help facilitate these meetings are also motivated by the results they see through this network. A mentality to “gather and fortify” instead of “divide and conquer” is fostered in the women to support each other and have honest conversations about topics specific to women in corrections.

If you need to make quick, extensive modifications to training, Cherry realizes there is “no quick fix,” but you have to start somewhere. Communication and a willingness to set aside time to invest in people are necessary and worth it. And remember, progress is not linear; it may be navigated by trial and error.

We congratulate Cherry Taylor and the MDOC on their successful innovative training initiatives to better prepare and support staff long-term.