Turning inmates around PDF Print E-mail
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 06 July 2013 07:18
Cary Williams (from left) and Valerie Amidon, outgoing director of Northwest Community Corrections Center are seen talking to Cody Underwood and Nicholas McCorkle. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
In 13 years at the NorthWest Community Corrections Center, Valerie Amidon's focus has been on helping residents be successful when they are released and to help change the mind-set that got them in trouble in the first place.
On Wednesday, Amidon will step down from her executive director's position at the community-based correctional facility as she is moving to North Carolina. Cary Williams, a native of Ironton, who has been training with her for the past month, will take over the position.
Amidon, a graduate of Bowling Green State University, began her career at NorthWest, a 60-bed locked facility in Bowling Green for males convicted of felonies, 13 years ago as the operations director. She was promoted to executive director in 2006.
During her tenure at NorthWest, treatment has become more individualized and tailored to the resident's own experiences. And in addition to giving them treatment for drug abuse and domestic violence, for example, they also take a class that seeks to alter their decision-making process to prevent them from committing another crime.
"We did a total overhaul of the program and I think that's a huge accomplishment," Amidon said.
But the real meaning of success, for her, is hearing back from former residents, sometimes a decade later, letting her know how valuable their experience was at NorthWest.
"The best part for me is seeing the guy who was here 10 years ago leading a successful life. He has a job, family and has not committed another offense," she said.
NorthWest offers offenders help with re-entering the community when they are released, substance abuse treatment, education, domestic violence and parenting classes, sexual abuse and sex offender treatment, mental health and medical services, community service opportunities and projects, help finding employment, family interaction and anger management, among other programs and services.
Williams, Amidon's successor, said he feels NorthWest has a solid system in place for moving forward.
He has been most impressed by the center's well-trained and active staff.
"I think it's great everyone here has a working knowledge of our goals and mission," he said.
He spent the last three years as program director for another community-based correctional facility in Scioto County called Star Community Justice Center.
Moving forward, Williams said he hopes NorthWest can be a model for other community-based correctional facilities.
"I'd really like for us to be looked at as the experts in community corrections in this area," Williams said.
Amidon is confident NorthWest is moving in that direction under Williams' direction.
"I think he brings a wealth of knowledge from the community corrections field," Amidon said. "He brings a lot of ideas I think will be advantageous to the facility and for the residents to continue to be successful."

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