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Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women Launches First Facility–Wide Contact Employee Program

April 17, 2024

By Lukas D’Ambrosio Communications Office
A woman cutting a long ribbon held by two other people.

Tonie, an incarcerated individual at MCCCW, was given the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon with Officer Jonathan McNally at her side. (Photo Courtesy of Lukas D’Ambrosio, Communications Office)

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In a symbolic event marked by hope and collaboration, Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW) unveiled its Contact Employee Program with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Inspired by The Washington Way and Amend principles of normalization, the program aims to foster positive relationships between staff and incarcerated individuals, promoting trust and security within the facility.

With 33 enthusiastic staff members already signed up, the Contact Employee Program sets a new standard by extending across the entire facility. Unlike similar initiatives in other facilities, MCCCW's program is welcoming participation from all staff members, not just officers.

Superintendent Arminda Miller and Captain Daniela Arnhold addressed the audience, acknowledging the facility's progress in implementing Washington Way principles and emphasizing the significance of this latest endeavor. They commended the incarcerated women for their resilience and the staff for their commitment to positive change.

“We are embarking on something a little different in shape but not different in heart,” said Superintendent Miller. “We’ve had trips to Norway, Sweden, North Dakota and Oregon to study firsthand the concepts on Normalization, Dynamic Security and Progression. We’ve added new furniture that looks less prison like, we’ve completed beautification projects in spaces used by staff and incarcerated individuals. We’ve included staff in programs such as book and garden club. That’s a lot of progress, a lot of thinking, a lot of work. And now we embark on another exciting element of MCCCW’s Washington Way journey, the Contact Employee Program.”

Following the speeches, incarcerated women eagerly filled out cards to nominate their preferred staff member as their contact employee. Despite initial hesitation, there was an atmosphere of optimism as the women recognized the potential for meaningful connections with staff members who could serve as role models and sources of support.

“I walked around at the ribbon cutting, talking to the incarcerated individuals who were there and while there was some shyness on the women’s part, they approached and signed up for a contact staff,” said Jo Wofford, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Women’s Prisons. “It takes courage for them to trust the process, but they have waited for this patiently! This program is the unique product of the team at a very special facility. It is wonderful to get to see individuals having opportunities to feel normalization with the contact staff model.”

The event concluded with staff and incarcerated women coming together to share a meal and engage in conversation, fostering the connection between them. The spirit of collaboration underscores MCCCW’s commitment to providing exceptional services and opportunities for growth despite its smaller population of incarcerated individuals.

“Our goal is to have the incarcerated women depart MCCCW feeling empowered,” said Captain Arnold. “Empowered to support themselves, empowered to support their families. By seeking employment in various trades that are equal to their male counter parts and returning to their communities, they are empowered to find ways to improve the communities they departed from.”