ACA Honors Cass Award Winners

Corrections Today, October 1993 | Go to article overview

ACA Honors Cass Award Winners


The E.R. Cass Correctional Achievement Award, ACA's highest honor, was bestowed upon Morris L. Thigpen, Gail D. Hughes and The Honorable Helen G. Corrothers at the ACA Awards Banquet, Aug. 4, in Nashville, Tenn. The following citations are printed as they were read at the event.

Morris L. Thigpen

Morris L. Thigpen represents the highest calibre of the corrections profession, both in terms of his achievements and the qualities he brings to the field.

Mr. Thigpen began his distinguished corrections career in 1971, when he became coordinator of personnel and training for the Mississippi Department of Youth Services. In this position, Mr. Thigpen worked with the Governor's Office of Job Training and the University of Southern Mississippi to provide a continuing training development program for childcare workers and other staff.

In 1974, Mr. Thigpen was appointed chief administrator of the community services division of the Department of Youth Services. While director, he emphasized the importance of dealing with the child before and after adjudication. He initiated a comprehensive tracking system to track youths throughout the system, from court to institution to home.

Mr. Thigpen's career in adult corrections began in 1977, when he was appointed deputy commissioner of community service for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In this position, he developed a comprehensive classification and case load management system for the state's community work and restitution centers. This program placed probationers and parolees into different levels of supervision and eventually returned hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution fines, court costs and taxes to the state.

Mr. Thigpen was appointed commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections in 1980, a position he held for six years. During his tenure, the department instituted a paramilitary prison rehabilitation program called Regimented Inmate Discipline. Numerous states visited the Mississippi RID Program and patterned their programs after this innovative concept.

Mr. Thigpen was named Alabama's corrections commissioner in early 1987, where he served until early 1993. During this period, Mr. Thigpen continued making his mark on adult corrections. Through his quiet diplomacy, Mr. Thigpen worked to reduce prison crowding and was greatly responsible for the removal of Alabama's prison system from federal court control.

Mr. Thigpen has been a very active member of ACA, serving as chairman of several of the Association's committees. In addition, he has served as president of the Southern States Correctional Association, an ACA affiliate. Mr. Thigpen has attended and contributed to the National Institute of Corrections' Advisory Board hearings and has been an active member of the National Drug Task Force. He also has been president and an active leader of the Association of State Correctional Administrators and recently received its 1992 Michael Francke Award for his outstanding contributions and achievements in Alabama and Mississippi.

Mr. Thigpen's compelling guidance and exemplary leadership have inspired employees, others in the criminal justice system, and those interested in a better correctional system to look beyond political interests, budget restraints and crowding as well as other obstacles that stand in the way of a better tomorrow.

ACA is proud to bestow its highest honor, the Edward R. Cass Correctional Achievement Award, upon Morris L. Thigpen.

Gail D. Hughes

Gail D. Hughes' vision of corrections and long history of accomplishments put him in the forefront of innovative correctional practitioners. His professional career has spanned 40 years, during which he has served in various positions in probation, parole and institutional services and touched the lives of countless corrections professionals.

Mr. Hughes began his career with the Missouri Department of Corrections as a caseworker at the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1952.

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ACA Honors Cass Award Winners
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