James Michael Francke, known as Mike to friends and family, was an exceptional man and an avant-garde leader in the corrections field in the 1980s. His work as a correctional professional helped shape the penal system in New Mexico and Oregon. At the time of his death in 1989, he was the secretary for the Oregon Department of Corrections, where he crafted and oversaw the largest expansion and modernization in the state’s correctional history. He was a progressive leader whose legacy will forever influence future generations of correctional administrators striving to make a difference.
The recipient of this award must have a lengthy and productive corrections career, and especially in his/her role as director, which includes active participation and contribution to Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) events and/or projects.
The 2017 recipient of Michael Francke Career Achievement Award, Gary Mohr, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is no stranger to being honored by his peers in ASCA. Last year, he also was the first recipient of the Tom Clements Award.
Director Mohr’s years of service have had many achievements. In 2016 the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) became the first prison system in the United States to receive the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) Lucy Webb Hayes Award. The Lucy Webb Hayes Award was established to recognize correctional agencies that have achieved 100% compliance with both ACA accreditation standards and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards.
Like Michael Francke, Director Mohr has pushed past the status quo. One of the first things Director Mohr did when he became the Director of the DRC in 2011 was to change the mission statement from an overly complex concept to a very simple goal, “To reduce recidivism among those we touch”. He understood that the mission of the DRC was to serve the public by transforming the lives of those who come under their supervision.
Mohr has remained steadfast in his belief that non-violent offenders receive the best care if they remain in the community and has insisted publicly that society should “invest in people, not bricks and mortar”. This refers to his core belief that corrections officials should not build more prisons when treatment, employment and education resources are needed to stop people from coming to prison in the first place.
In 2013, amidst national and international attention regarding the use of long-term Restrictive Housing in prisons, Director Mohr once again stepped forward to be a local and national leader for reform. He emerged as a key leader in framing the national discussion and debate on the topic and was selected to be the co-chair of the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) sub-committee on Restrictive Housing. This committee was responsible for drafting the new Restrictive Housing standards which were recently ratified at ACA’s 146th Congress of Corrections.
In Ohio, Restrictive Housing Reform has been moving forward even before these standards were ratified, and since 2013 there has been over a 25% reduction in the use of Restrictive Housing system-wide. While remaining devoted to staff safety, Director Mohr has envisioned and begun to realize a system which uses alternatives to Restrictive Housing to address inmate misbehavior.
Director Mohr is the visionary who drives Ohio to do more every day in an effort to improve the lives of Ohioans. He believes in the best of humanity and expects excellence from those around him. His innovation, dedication, and passion for reform have set a powerful precedent in the world of corrections and continue to push all in the profession to higher levels of success.