Magazine article Corrections Today

Seventy-Six Going on Twenty-Four

Magazine article Corrections Today

Seventy-Six Going on Twenty-Four

Article excerpt

Vivian Tohanczyn, could be anybody's grandma. "How old are you? she asks this Corrections Today staff member during her phone interview. "Twenty-five?"


"Why, you're not even old enough to buy a cigarette, love," she says amiably, in a deep and gravelly voice. "If you ever come to Kansas, you can come see me. From BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Airport), you can get a round-trip ticket into Wichita."

In a half-hour chat, this 76-year-old reader, mother and grandmother who walks with a cane proved to be as charming and interesting as could be. No wonder she was named 1996 Volunteer of the Year by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Tohanczyn works for the DOC's Reduced Supervision Unit. As assistant to Parole Officer Brian Anschutz, Tohanczyn verifies the residence and employment of nearly 500 parolees by making phone calls from her home. She works an average of 180 hours a month, logging most of her calls at night and on the weekends. She says these are the best times to catch people at home.

Often, Tohanczyn doesn't just run down her checklist, collect information and move on. Her phone calls tend to turn into conversations, and she's able to gain an inside track on parolees' lives that they don't readily divulge to parole officers.

"I probably know more about these people than three-fifths of the staff in the DOC," she says. "I know when they have a baby, I know when they've been sick, I know when somebody's been in the hospital. Some even send me Christmas cards."

Anschutz describes Tohanczyn's close relationships with parolees as an asset to his daily work. …

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