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Corrections Employee Wins Governor’s Award for Excellence

09/30/2020

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf honored Department of Corrections (DOC) Community Based Corrections Program Director Daniel McIntyre with the Governor's Award for Excellence today for his work in three key areas: virtual reality, use of GPS on State Drug Treatment individuals and creation of community corrections center employment counselors. 

The award recognizes commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. McIntyre is one of 49 state employees from nine agencies to be honored by Governor Tom Wolf at today's virtual awards presentation.

"Danny is a dynamic life-long corrections professional who uses his skills to make corrections, parole and reentry better for everyone involved, including citizens of this commonwealth," said DOC Secretary John Wetzel. 

McIntyre was nominated for the award by his supervisor, Deputy Secretary for Reentry Kelly Evans, who described McIntyre as an energetic employee who works to solve issues and improve procedures and efficiencies. 

"Director McIntyre is one of the hardest working people I know," said Deputy Evans, who went on to explain, "Danny leads by example and is an inspiration to all who come into contact with him. He is known for his high energy and positive outlook, and he makes it a point to make everyone feel important and valued. Through Danny's leadership, numerous programs have been created that assist reentrants with their successful reentry, which ultimately helps to keep our communities safe."

Virtual Reality (VR)

McIntyre started the virtual reality (VR) initiative to help ease the stress of reentry for juvenile lifers (inmates under the age of 18 at the time they committed their crimes) who were returning to a world that didn't exist when they were incarcerated due to their lengthy sentences. The idea was to show them community corrections centers (CCCs) and surrounding areas, via VR technology, to ease their anxiety regarding their impending release into a modern world after decades in prison. With the success of the juvenile lifer VR initiative, VR's potential quickly became apparent to McIntyre as he expanded VR to work with mentally ill and hospice inmates, as well as to deliver staff training. With VR, mentally ill inmates are rewarded or calmed by virtually going to the beach or other activities that appeal to them. By virtue of McIntyre's leadership with these initiatives, employees now are being trained by being virtually immersed in situations like inmate fights, assaults on staff and other emergency situations.

Use of GPS on State Drug Treatment (SDT) Inmates

Another one of McIntyre's innovations is the use of global positioning systems (GPS) on State Drug Treatment inmates residing at community corrections centers (CCCs). He developed this initiative to reduce dependence on CCC and state prison beds for returning SDT inmates with low-level violations. In fact, utilizing GPS as a sanctioning option for such individuals has reduced the need for CCC and SCI beds for short-term sanctions. Additionally, the enormous cost savings realized by the DOC as a result of this initiative allows for the expansion of the successful SDT program by giving individuals an alternative rehabilitative sanction in the community.

Creation of CCC Employment Counselors

As it became apparent that employment for CCC residents was key to successful reentry into society and preventing a backlog in the SCIs, McIntyre tackled this issue head on. The result was the creation of specialized CCC employment counselors. These counselors have formed relationships with local businesses to directly place reentrants in full-time, self-sustaining employment. This program has realized a statewide 12 percent increase in CCC resident employment since January 2019. When getting to work emerged as a barrier for a significant percentage of CCC residents, McIntyre used transport teams to assist reentrants with getting to and from their place of employment.

In addition to McIntyre's recognition as an award recipient, DOC Workforce Development Specialist Dorenda Hamarlund who, for the last several years, has played a major role in reentry and workforce development, was selected as an award finalist.

"Dorenda works tirelessly to educate employers on the benefits of hiring reentrants and to connect those employers with our reentrants who are eager to work, she has been a huge asset to our department," Evans said. 

Visit the DOC's podcast page to hear about her efforts to assist inmates with reentry. 

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