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 Brooke Howard WCSO 


Brooke Howard 

Congratulations to Brooke Howard who has been chosen as this year's recipient of the American Jail Association's Civilian of the Year Award for 2014. The AJA does not give out these awards lightly and you must really stand out to be selected. The award will be presented at the AJA's 33rd Annual Training Conference & Jail Expo on Tuesday, April 29, during their annual Awards Banquet in Dallas, Texas.


Brooke has been with the county since 2004. She has over 10 years experience helping offenders transform their lives by developing activities, programs and services to promote the rehabilitation, reintegration, personal growth and character development. It was during her time as a sworn law enforcement officer she discovered her passion for working with offenders and ex-offenders. Brooke has a bachelor's degree in Social Work and is currently the Detention Programs Coordinator for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. As the coordinator she oversees the Sheriff's Alternatives to Incarceration Unit (A.I.U.), which is comprised of The Sheriff's Community Work Program (S.C.W.P.), Jail Counseling Programs, Religious Services, Inmate Work Program, Off-site Book, Print and Release and the Sheriff's House Arrest Program.


Q: Tell me about your job and responsibilities?


Brooke: "I am responsible for managing, developing and coordinating inmate work programs, community service programs, community outreach projects, self-help programs and religious services. A big part of my job is to establish a network of community support and cooperation by meeting with representatives of government bodies, local businesses and other groups/organizations to promote program objectives, develop new programs and solicit community participation. I also manage daily screening of inmates for acceptance into the Alternative Sentencing Programs offered to inmates including final review for inmate placement, clarifying court orders, investigating and resolving discrepancies. I plan, coordinate and partner on numerous community outreach projects such as the Sherriff's Community Graffiti Clean-up Event, Detention Volunteer Appreciation, The Ex-Offender Career Resource, Job Fair and Christmas on the Corridor."


Q: What are some of the challenges that offender's face:


Brooke: "The obvious barriers offenders face are finding suitable housing with very limited means, managing financially, finding and maintaining employment, transportation and accessing services and support for their specific needs. Sheriff Haley recognizes that by offering vocational training, certification programs and self-help services offenders are more prepared for employment and are less likely to return to custody. In fact, with the approval from Sheriff Haley and the Board of County Commissioner's we just started construction to convert an existing housing unit into a state of the art programs unit. Once complete the unit will allow the Sheriff's Office to expand programs currently offered and will include a computer lab, library, multiple class rooms and even a room for Asana (Yoga). In the last few years we have started to take a holistic approach to working with offenders; creating programs that encompass prevention, education, behavioral health services, religion and nutrition to name a few. I've been working with a number of community agencies to bring additional programs into the facility, such as depression and anxiety management, coping with mental illness, an inmate dog training project with Regional Animal Services, and an inmate compost/recycling/garden program.  One of my manager goals is to establish a formal re-entry program. I am a strong advocate of offender re-entry programs and I strive to create links between those incarcerated and the community."


Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the inmate dog training project and the inmate compost/recycling/garden program? These programs sound very exciting and progressive thinking.


Brooke: "These programs are in their infant stages and nothing is set in stone. As a partnership with Regional Animal Services, supervised female inmates would be taught how to train and care for the dogs, basic obedience, tricks and the different issues surrounding their care and ways to reduce pet overpopulation. The benefits are that the dogs are rescued and given opportunities for adoptions and inmates learn new skills in dog training and handling, as well as learning to care for something other than themselves.

With the inmate compost/recycling/garden program all food wastes within the jail would be composted and used in a unique program to grow pumpkins, fruit and/or vegetables. By making our jail more sustainable, we not only save money and the environment, but also engage offenders with direct responsibility for these activities, hopefully improving behavior and again teaching them new skills." 


Q: What are your plans for the future:


Brooke: "First I want to say I am sincerely grateful to the AJA Awards Selection Committee for choosing me as the recipient of this year's 2014 "Civilian of the Year Award." I am so humbled to have been chosen out of so many other deserving applicants. My future plans are to continue my education either pursuing a master's degree or applying to law school. I am so grateful to the many people along the way that have opened doors which have given me opportunities to achieve my goals."  


If you have someone you think should be acknowledged or spotlighted in our newsletter please contact:
Marion Straw 775-323-8273