Prison department wants new slogan to reflect new focus

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Corrections is looking to create a new image that will better reflect its mission of prisoner rehabilitation.

So, officials asked corrections workers to come up with a new slogan for the department with a staff of 6,800 corrections officers that oversee a prison population of about 43,000 inmates.

With 550 suggestions from about 300 staffers winnowed down to 10, the public is now being asked to help select the winner.

The old motto, “help make things right,” didn’t go over well with corrections officers, said department spokesman Chris Gautz.

“Some people took it to mean that they were part of what was wrong,” he said, when the intent was to show that corrections officers are a big part in helping inmates lead productive lives.

After Heidi Washington took over as director of the department in May, officials thought it was time for a new slogan, one that focused on its mission of helping offenders. The change follows a trend in state government to focus on employee engagement, Gautz said.

Offender success has replaced prisoner re-entry as the department’s focus, he said.

“We want to make sure that when people get out, they have education, vocational training, housing help and the skills needed to be successful” and never return to prison, Gautz said.

The 10 finalists are:

■Focus on Success.

■Promoting Positive Change.

■Creating a Safe and Successful Michigan.

■Protecting Communities and Changing Lives.

■Promoting Success, Transforming Lives .

■Committed to Success.

■Improving Lives and Safeguarding Communities.

■Committed to Protect, Dedicated to Success.

■Dedicated Staff, Positive Culture, Successful Future.

■Public Safety Through Offender Success.

Corrections work involves more than custody of the prison population, Gautz said. For example, some officers train dogs for adoption, oversee vocational classes, work in units housing the elderly and serve in hospice care.

Voting, which is also open to the general public, closes Jan. 8, and the winning slogan will be announced later that month.