IDOC trailblazer honored

Image of Mary Anne Desport who led the way for women working in corrections
IDOC Trailblazer Mary Ann Desport
Mary Ann Desport was one of the first women to supervise male offenders

BOISE – The Idaho Correctional Association (ICA) has given its highest honor, the Feldner Award, to Mary Ann Desport who helped blaze the trail for women at the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC).

Desport joined IDOC as a secretary at North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) in Cottonwood in 1983. She switched to the security ranks the following year when the women’s dorm opened at Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino (ICIO). She went on to become one of the first female correctional officers to supervise male offenders in Idaho.

“When I started we were still in the old warehousing mode,” Mary Ann says. “The progression to really working to change offenders’ behavior has been a long, slow and sometimes painful process, but we are now on top of the game as far as behavior change is concerned.”

Desport retired on August 20, 2010 after 27 years with the IDOC. During her long career, she picked up a couple of notable firsts.  She was the first woman to complete the physical requirements for the Correctional Emergency Response Team, of which she was a member of at ICIO for seven–and-a-half years. She was also IDOC’s first NRA-certified firearms instructor and helped develop Idaho’s statewide emergency preparedness plan.

The Feldner Award for Lifetime Achievement is the Idaho criminal justice community’s highest honor. The award honors a criminal justice professional who has shown excellence, dedication, loyalty, and leadership while in service to the citizens of Idaho. The award was created in memory of New Plymouth Police Officer Ronald Feldner who was shot and killed in 1994 while investigating a report of a stolen car.

In addition to the Feldner Award, ICA presented other awards to correctional professionals across the state for exemplary work in corrections.

The Extra Mile Award

This award is given to a person or team who has shown  leadership, has demonstrated excellence, is courteous and respectful, works by example, and who has made some contribution to their work unit or agency by going the “Extra Mile.” 

The recipients for Region 1, which covers northern Idaho, are the North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) kitchen staff and maintenance staff.  They faced many challenges while the NICI chow hall was remodeled.

The recipient for Region 2, which covers southwestern Idaho, is Rachael Masaitis, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation specialist at South Boise Women’s Correctional Center (SBWCC).  Masaitis was honored for her proactive efforts to assist offenders and staff in a variety of ways.

The recipient for Region 3, which covers eastern Idaho, is Tobin Bird, a senior probation and parole officer for District 7.  Bird was honored for being a team player who constantly seeks ways to improve his work and that of his colleagues. He also has been active in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®, an annual march by men around the world to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

The Cutting Edge Award

This award is given to a person or team who has developed a program or project that sets a standard of excellence in the adult criminal justice system. This person or team has worked beyond the parameters of their job description and has shown vision and creativity in developing an “Edge of Technology” program or project.

The recipients for Region 1 (northern Idaho) are the members of the North Idaho Correction Institution Sex Offender Program staff.   They created a program that is aimed at treating sex offenders.

The recipient for Region 2 (southwestern Idaho) is Carmen Brooks, an instructor at South Boise Women’s Correctional Center (SBWCC).  Brooks took on the duty of monitoring SBWCC’s library. She also developed a career resource center.

The recipient for Region 3 (eastern Idaho), were the members if the District 7 Probation and Parole staff. They were honored for their consistently strong performance based on the Community Corrections Division’s monthly performance measures.  They also have been leaders in supporting drug courts and mental health courts in their district.

Medical Workers Honored

In addition to the ICA awards, the Idaho Board of Correction (BOC) honored two Correctional Medical Service (CMS) employees. CMS is the company that provides health care to offenders in IDOC institutions.

On August 31, 2010, James Dunning, who works at NICI, and Korena Popp, who works at ICIO, responded to a helicopter crash near Kamiah. The crash killed the helicopter’s pilot and two Idaho Fish and Game biologists. Dunning and Popp took charge of the scene, provided emergency care and helped calm witnesses.  The BOC presented Dunning and Popp with plaques to honor them for the leadership, strength and character they showed following the crash.

Story published: 12/20/2010
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