AUSTIN — Janis Murray and Dr. Carolyn Moore of Huntsville were each presented with awards during the Governor’s 2020-21 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards program on Friday.
Murray received the TDCJ Employee Volunteer Award during the Governor’s 2020-2021 Criminal, while Moore was presented the Judy Burd Award from the Windham School District.
The awards were presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Patrick O’Daniel and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during an online ceremony.
“Volunteering is a responsibility that these recipients have embraced wholeheartedly and for that we are extremely grateful,” said O’Daniel.
“The efforts of these award recipients are unparalleled,” said Collier. “Every day they leave a profound and lasting impression on the lives of so many across the State of Texas.”
Murray has more than 29 years of service with the agency and has been a volunteer for more than eight years. The past two years she has been a Certified Volunteer Chaplain’s Assistant (CVCA) at the Ellis Unit and the Huntsville Unit. She participates in the Bridges to Life and the Overcomers programs.
Murray began her TDCJ career in Communications where she was a supervisor for more than 12 years. In October 1995, she became the first female to work in the Community Education Program and travelled across Texas teaching in various schools. In 2000, she became a Correctional Officer and retired in October 2020. She is now a part-time Correctional Officer at the Holliday Transfer Facility in Huntsville.
Dr. Moore is a professor of music at Sam Houston State University and has brought music therapy to the youthful inmates at the Ellis Unit for the past three years. She assembles a team of students from the university two and four times annually. They spend a week at a time teaching the students about various instruments provided by the Windham School District. Dr. Moore and the students work with the inmates all week with the goal of presenting a concert on Friday. During this short time, the students can play, as a band, a song or two and then display their individual talents to WSD and TDCJ staff.
The students learn to accomplish something they have never done before and sometimes discover a gift that they did not know they had. They also learn to work with one another as a team while the class provides a positive incentive for good behavior.
Moore’s award is named in tribute to curriculum specialist Judy Burd who was employed with the WSD where she developed the nationally recognized pre-release program CHANGES. She was also the WSD volunteer program coordinator and, in that capacity, encouraged many to give their time in service to others. Judy Burd was well qualified for this role as she volunteered at the local alternative education program and for several years taught adult education at night in her community, helping many to learn to read and write.
The duo are two of 16 individuals and six organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. They donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims.
In fiscal year 2019 there were 22,506 volunteers who served a total of 394,214 hours.