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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2018 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

San Saba Woman Receives Governor’s 2018 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award

Photo of Award Winner(s) From left to right: TBCJ Chairman Dale Wainwright, Michael Taylor, Debra Taylor, Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Blacklock, and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier.

(AUSTIN) – Debra Taylor of San Saba, Texas was presented the “Judy Burd – Windham School District” Award during the Governor’s 2018 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program today.

The award was presented by Dale Wainwright, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during a ceremony held in Austin.

“Each of these award recipients has given countless hours of volunteer service within the TDCJ and we are extremely grateful for their efforts,” said director Collier. “They help to make a profound impact on the lives of thousands of offenders and, in doing so, make Texas safer. They are truly everyday heroes.”

Chairman Wainwright said, “These award recipients are giving of their time and gifts to help build better communities throughout Texas. We are extremely thankful for the volunteers we recognize with these awards. They selflessly serve others out of a sense of responsibility to their fellow Texans and to the offenders.”

Ms. Taylor is a dedicated TDCJ volunteer who has been instrumental in the success of the Storybook Project at the San Saba Unit. Female offenders will select a book appropriate for their child’s age and then read the book as they are recorded. Volunteers then transfer the recording to a CD that is sent to the offender’s child along with the book. The Storybook Project helps foster a relationship between the mother and child during her incarceration. It also helps to motivate the offender to read to their child which can be critical to their success and ability to break the chain of criminal behavior.

The award is named in tribute to curriculum specialist Judy Burd who worked for the Windham School District where she developed the nationally recognized pre-release program called CHANGES. She was also the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the district who encouraged others to give of their time in service to others. Judy Burd also taught adult education classes at night in her community where she helped many people learn to read and write.

Ms. Taylor is one of 14 individuals and 7 organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. They donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims.

In FY2017, there were 23,288 volunteers who provided a total of 395,207 hours of service.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jeremy Desel, TDCJ Public Information Director, at 936-437-6052 or by e-mail at jeremy.desel@tdcj.texas.gov – For high resolution photos of award recipients, contact Jene Andersen at jene.andersen@tdcj.texas.gov.