New York State Minorities in Corrections, Inc - Founded 1986
New York State Minorities in Criminal Justice, Inc - Renamed 1994
Our History Begins with our Founders:
(Photo from left to right)
We often say that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come! That idea needs, however, to compel someone to have the courage to move forward with the idea knowing full well that there will be resistance coming from those who have an interest in keeping the status-quo. How you move forward with a powerful idea may be just as important as the idea itself. In this regard we are talking about strategies, that on the one hand, moves the idea forward to maximize success and, on the other hand, avoids the possible career ending of proponents because they were perceived as too aggressive . It is within this context that we wish to relate the reason that New York State Minorities in Correction (and subsequently Criminal Justice, Inc.) was organized, developed, and have survived these now 30 years.
April 17, 1986 marked the date that the idea of Racial/ Ethnic in Justice within the State of New York Department of Corrections and subsequently the NYS Criminal Justice System "would no longer be tolerated as an everyday practice.
The one person who most can be credited for the development, implementation, and putting this idea into practice, by any standard of organization success, was our Founding President, Marion L. Borum, a former Deputy Commissioner of Correction. His strategy was to first honor Correctional Commissioner Thomas Coughlin with the organization's highest award.
This award symbolized a person's commitment to address and practice Racial Justice within the Criminal Justice System.
Over 1500 person's shared in the organizations' appraisal and praise of Commissioner Thomas Coughlin. From this point forward this event cemented and laid a solid foundation for the organization's future and simultaneously gave us legitimacy in the furtherance of our mission.
D =Deceased R =Retired
Marion L. Borum, our founding President, through his adept oratory and organization skills established, fought, and maintained the New York State Minorities in Correction because: "He believed that there should be a forum for minority staff in the Criminal Justice System to not only influence professional growth but also attempt to make an impact on criminal justice policies."
If not for his belief in "Doing the Right Thing" the now New York State Minorities in Criminal Justice would not have evolved, developed, and, dare we say, survived the trials and tribulations over the course of twenty plus years. Consider his prophetic words in a memorandum he sent, in March of 1986, to the Regional Coordinators and Committee Members:
"You have been an essential part of that movement which I believe will place the New York State Minorities in Corrections on record as a group supporting progressive advancement in criminal justice. To that end... (we) formulated a statement of purpose as to provide structure for what we expect will become a growing and important organization."
Exactly five years later, in March of 1991, Deputy Commissioner Marion Borum retired after laying down a legacy for NYSMIC members, specifically, and the New York State Criminal Justice system, in general, and we are immensely proud of his accomplishment, such as the following:
For these accomplishments, and more not included here, the NYSMIC bestowed our "Distinguished Criminal Justice Professional Award" on him at our 1991 conference. We will be eternally grateful for his endeavors on our behalf and the Criminal Justice Community. It is for these reasons and more that we have embedded in his name the "Marion Borum" award to be given periodically to a deserving person that provides Offender Services!
Benjamin Ward's criminal justice career spanned a half a century (50 years) and was truly reflective superbly in all the components of the system, the Police, the Judiciary, and Correction, in a manner deserving of NYSMICJ's headline and commentary in the "The Key Voices."
By the time he left DOCS in 1978, to become New York City's Police Commissioner, he had profoundly influenced the department and those minorities in the department in a matter that reverberates to this day. Consider this:
As we have stated previously without Benjamin Ward's commitment to "Truth Telling" it is unlikely that NYSMIC would have moved forward and become as unswervingly an organization concern with all those within the Criminal Justice Community. It is for these reasons why we have named our highest award in his name, "The Benjamin Ward Award"!
George King, Esq. It is no stretch of the imagination to say that without the legal & fiscal advice and actions of George King with NYSMICJ the organization would have no significant level of legitimacy & creditability with local, state, and national governmental entities. Mr. King's involvement and active participation with NYSMICJ, spanning nearly fifteen years, from its inception in 1994 to most recently in 2008, where he had to disengage himself from the organization to avoid a "conflict of interest" with his appointment as the Inspector General for the New York State Comptroller’s Office. Over those years, the now retired Counsel King served in numerous capacities for the organization as:
As a then Commissioner of Parole, he inspired others in the Division of Parole to be involved with the organization at all levels including the presidency. His leadership with Parole specifically and the organization in general has been unmatched. We own a great debt to George King for his untiring but uncompensated work on behalf of the organization.
While it is a debt that we can never pay, we have declared him a "Life Time Member" which symbolizes our eternal gratitude for his more than generous contribution of his time and effort. It is for these reasons and more that we have embedded in his name the "George King, ESQ." award to be given periodically to a deserving member of the Parole Board or Community Supervision Services.
Harry Corbitt involvement with NYSMIC & NYSMICJ goes back many, many, years. In particular as a then Lt. Colonel with the State Police , he along with then President Arthur Taggart provided the leadership and inspiration for State Troopers specifically and other police officers in general to be involved with the organization. Over the years he has served in numerous capacities with NYSMIC and during the transition to NYSMICJ as a:
Although he never served officially as the organization's "Executive Director" in fact, he fulfilled that role throughout his involvement with NYSMICJ by always suggesting activities that would enhance the organization's status and "best practices" for our members consistent with our mission statement. It was no surprise to us, then, that on March 24, 2008 that our first African-American Governor, David Paterson, nominated Colonel Harry Corbitt, as the first African-American to serve as the Superintendent of the State Police! His appointment marked the end of a drought since 1975 of minorities selected to head a New York State Criminal Justice agency, since Benjamin Ward! Superintendent Corbitt, surely, has been a shining example of a person who moved up the Criminal Justice ladder that we should all emulate. Over the years, it has been a reciprocating relationship in that he has paid with his efforts on behalf of NYSMICJ and the greater Criminal Justice Community the organization in turn has recognized him as a Life-Time Member! It is for these reasons and more that we have embedded in his name the "Harry Corbitt award to be given to a deserving person in law enforcement!
We may characterize our foundational event as one of many "Defining Moments” in the history of our organization. Others would be the "Inaugural Conference" held in 1987.This event symbolized the significant work that lied ahead and the seriousness that required our "getting-down-to-business". As the title, suggest:
Consistent with our theme we had the honor of the present of the former Commissioner of Corrections, Benjamin Ward, the first and only African-American Commissioner of DOCS, and after leaving DOCS became the first African-American Commissioner of the NYPD. We also were honored with the presence of former DOCS Lieutenant, Edward Kirkland, who along with others was instrumental in challenging the DOCS'S Sergeant and Lieutenants civil service test because of disparate test results of minority vs. majority test takers.
Out of this first conference, some controversy arose between the former Commissioner of DOCS, Benjamin Ward, and the, then, current Commissioner, Thomas Coughlin. Mr. Ward's made two significant comments when he stated at our conference the following in regard to the incarcerated:
And perhaps more telling he said in regard to employees:
In reaction and response Commissioner Coughlin released a rather cogent statement entitled: "ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION"! In this statement he showed through statistical analysis that, indeed, progress had been made under his administration that resulted in an 8% increase of minorities working north of Interstate 84.
It could well be said, then, that the controversy between the two Correctional Commissioners propelled NYSMIC to move forward and expand our reach throughout the State because of the need to keep Affirmative Action policies in place against increasing trends to push it back through charges of reverse discrimination. Thus, the organization began to spread its wings in 1988, through the establishment of regions and conference at three primary sites that covered the north-west, the north east, and the southern areas of New York State at Albany, Buffalo, & New York city’s inclusive of their greater metropolitan areas.
Coupled with expansion in 1990 we convened a conference in Albany, NY. The theme for this Coupled with expansion in 190 we convened a conference in Albany, N.Y. The theme for this conference was "Affirmative Action within the Criminal Justice System in the 90's -Keeping the Pressure On." The honoree for the event was Dr. Allen Bush who was DOCS first Director of Manpower and Minority Recruitment. In 1972, among many other achievements, he was responsible for the special recruiting of 25 +persons of color to fulfill, for the first time in the history of DOCS, Correction Counselor titles with a parenthetic entitled "Minority Group".
We, also, had extracted a promise, at this conference, from DOCS' Executive Deputy Commissioner, Phillip Coombe, Jr. who gave our keynote address, to commit to making:
And in turn he offered a challenge to the NYSMIC audience, when he stated:
With that conference, an important factor of, Organizational Stability had now been achieved because we had successfully expanded our organization's breadth and depth geographically, through adding agencies, and established legitimacy amongst elected & public officials. This allowed us to recognize and examine more closely our membership's professional and personnel needs. It was within this context that it made sense that we honored the founder and first president of NYSMIC , Marion Borum at our 1991 conference held in Poughkeepsie, NY. Mr. Marion Borum, a then Deputy Commissioner for Program Services, who had followed a long line of minority Deputy Commissioner's for Program Services that began with Edwin Elwin c.l971, the first to fill this newly established position, followed by Carl Berry and the only female in that position Susan Butler in the 1980's, Raymond Broaddus in the 1990's, and lastly in the 2000's Frank Headley and currently Jeffery McKoy.
Upon his appointment, from Superintendent at Lincoln CF to Deputy Commissioner, Marion Borum continued to emphasize and expand Program Services in the areas of Education, Substance Abuse Treatment, and Vocational Training to address some of the social ills that caused incarcerated persons to come to prison and to often too recidivate. As a result we felt it fitting to honor his near decade accomplishment as reflected in our theme:"Save our People, The Time is Now"!
In 1992, after a realization that minorities had to be more active in crafting our destiny and solving our plight, we chose "Back to Basics -Saving Ourselves" for our conference theme in Buffalo, NY. Our honoree was Arthur Eve, the Deputy Speaker for the New York State Assembly, who had been a strong supporter of minorities in correction and in the public arena in general. Especially evident had been his support for quality education for minorities and the economically disadvantage.
In 1993, we did not have a conference but instead decided to host "A Celebration of Cultural Diversity" event in which we honored several notable individuals:
These individuals represented a rainbow of competency and leadership in the criminal justice arena that deserved our high praise and recognition!
In 1993 we began to seriously examine our direction and influence in Corrections specifically and the Criminal Justice System in general. Through a Executive Board Retreat of all board members we examined all aspects of the organization; from our name which we recommended changing from the New York State Minorities in Correction to the New York State Minorities in Criminal Justice, the Mission Statement, the By-Laws, and quite significantly we appointed for the first time an Executive Director, Dr. Alice Green a previous honoree.
Dr. Green appointment was also significant in that she was not employed by any public Criminal Justice agency; this rendered the organization's as an independent advocacy that heretofore it had been lacking.
Also, during 1994 Commissioner, Thomas Coughlin, retired after 10 years of progressive leadership of DOCS and support of our organization. Our, then, President, Dr. Cecil Canton, spoke at the Commissioner's Retirement affair praising what had become the end of the Coughlin Era and the start of the Phillip Coombe, Jr. Era.
In 1995 under our new name, the New York State Minorities in Criminal Justice, and with our first president from an agency other than DOCS, Alpina Taylor of the Division of Parole, we held our conference in Buffalo, NY under the theme "Perception of the Criminal Justice System- Myths and Facts". At this conference we attracted most of the New York State Criminal Justice Commissioners, including the top law enforcement officer of the State of New York, Attorney General Dennis Vacco. We was also extremely pleased to have as our opening keynote speaker the Director of New York State Division for Youth, John Johnson.
In that same year, in a separate event held in Albany, we honored and recognized several individuals for their accomplishments in the Criminal Justice field, they were:
In the year 1996 we opted to have an "Awards Ceremony" to recognize the following:
In 1997 we had an conference entitled "Prepare, Preserve, Protect Our Commitment Toward the Year 2000" in Albany, NY wherein our keynote speaker was the Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice, Paul Shechtman, who was the Criminal Justice Czar over all NYS Law Enforcement agencies. We presented workshops that addressed our theme.
In 1999 we closed out the 20th Century with a gala "Awards Banquet" in Latham, NY wherein we purposely recognized an array of individuals that typically go unrecognized within the field of Criminal Justice. Honoree's ranged from our keynote speaker: Special Agent of the DEA, Lewis Rice, Jr.; Correction Officer Luis Morales,; Reverend Leonard Comithier, State Police Superintendent James W. McMahon, and Correctional Superintendent Bridgett Gladwin, a founder of NYSMIC and member of the Executive Board.
We opened the 21st Century by focusing on the personnel needs of our membership through a conference entitled "The Beat Goes On" at Fishkill, NY with workshops focusing on the Civil Service System and Domestic Violence. We were particularly pleased to have, Dr. Gary Mendez, Jr. speak on the need to develop fortitude and resolve to withstand the evitable crises in life and, Dr. L. Oliver Robinson, who spoke on the need for a viable education for our children. In that regard we had workshops from those who were employed in the system, such as "Rebuttable Conduct" from, the then, Deputy Supt. Of the State Police, Harry Corbitt (Who later became the first African American Superintendent of the State Police); on the under representation of minorities in the Criminal Justice System by Judge James McLeod; and "Attributes of Leadership" from Jail Superintendent, H. McCarty Gibson.
In 2003 we continued to recognize persons within the criminal justice community, including students, who were making or taking positive steps in their careers and/or education:
In 2004 we held our conference in Buffalo, NY entitled "Food for Thought- Is Diversity at Stake?" We addressed once again our membership's personal needs as it related to employment within the Criminal Justice System. These workshops were conducted by experts who did not work within the system such as Dr. Catherine Collins on "Stress Management" and Dr. Lorraine Peeler on "Anger". Also in 2004 we were honored to receive a keynote address from Assemblywomen Annette Robinson as we recognized persons within the criminal justice community, including students, who were making or taking positive steps in their careers and/or education, such as:
Continuing on with the uplifting of our membership in 2005 we held our conference in Albany, NY entitled "Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Eliminating Barriers to Advancement" and had the honor of being addressed by only the second minority person to become a New York County District Attorney, Mr. David Soares of Albany County. The first being D.A. Robert Johnson, of the Bronx County, topped off by the Division of Criminal Justice Czar, Chauncey Parker. They all spoke and addressed questions consistent with our theme from our membership.
In 2007 we held our conference in Buffalo, NY entitled "Mapping the Future: Are We Ready?" which we hoped to instill amongst attendees that we as an organization were ready to assist those committed to "Equal Opportunity and Equal Justice for All People".
In this regard we bestowed our highest honor, the "Benjamin Ward Award" on Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry for his advocacy, through the legislative process, of specific initiatives that would benefit the Reentry of offenders back to their communities.
We also were fortunate to have our event addressed by the Chair of the Parole Board, George Alexander and Dr. James Williams, the Superintendent of the Buffalo School System . Once again Criminal Justice agencies were well represented in our "Commissioner's Forum":
In 2008 we held our conference in Schenectady, NY entitled " A Time for Reflection: The Future is You" in which we sought to encourage participants to "reflect on the role that they could play in creating safer communities and promoting social justice at all levels of our system of Criminal Justice." The Commissioner of DOCS, Brian Fischer addressed us both in word and deed by noting that:
The conference concluded with a rousing speech by Mr. Norman McConney Jr. a staff Executive Director to the former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Arthur Eve, and the prime architect of the very successful and still going strong New York State Science & Technology Program!
In 2009 we held our conference in Poughkeepsie, NY featuring State Senator, Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Chair of the Senate Committee on Corrections, and recipient of our highest prestigious Benjamin Ward Award for distinguished services.
In 2010 we held our conference in Buffalo, NY entitled "Meeting Today's Challenges in the Criminal Justice System" in which we sought to raise awareness, educate, and "build alliances with other agencies that want to promote & preserve equal justice, fairness, and opportunities for all." Our awards speaker was the Honorable Judge .Betty Calvo-Torres and the former Commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department, H. McCarty Gipson.
2011-The 25th Anniversary- Founder's Day: This was a very special event, held in Albany, NY, that underscored the link with our past 25th years of trials and tribulations and the hope for our future., as symbolized by our theme:" Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow -Changing with the Times" We were pleased to hear from a very dynamic keynote motivation speaker: Mr. Leon Carter , CEO for "The Power of Your Word" who had attendees requesting more and more of listening to his "Words"! Other speakers for the event were once again, the honorable Assemblyman J. Aubrey; two School Superintendents Dr. Oliver Robinson & Dr. Quintin Bullock and Brian Fischer, Commissioner of Corrections. However, the most significant event was the recognition and honoring of the founders of the organization Marion Borum, our first president could not attend but did send a letter which reads:
In 2012 we held a Training Symposium in Fishkill, NY, entitled "LOOKING AT OUR PAST: BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE" wherein we were able to again hear from Mr. Leon Carter from last year in addition to Commissioner Brian Fischer as "Key Note Addressers! We also started for the first time Plenary Sessions focused on major issues within the Criminal Justice System. This session was entitled "Re-Entry in New York State: Are we on the right track for sustainability?" which was co-host by NYSMICJS board member, Joe Williams & Ann Jacobs of the Prisoners Re-Entry Institute of John Jay College. Dr. Vanda Steward, Director of DOCCS' Re-Entry unit; Jacqueline McLeod of Healing Communities; a formally incarcerated person; and Judge Betty Williams of the Kings County Civil and Criminal Courts were major contributors. In addition to the Plenary session we held workshops on "Leadership" conducted by DOCCS Superintendents, Michael Capra and Sandra Amonia-Kowalczyk; on "Public Safety Strategies" conducted by Mary Kavaney of the Governor’s Office and Ana Enright of the Parole Division; and former DOCS counselor Fred. Moody who is a certified "Toast Master" trainer!
In 2013 we held a Training Symposium in Buffalo, NY entitled CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN OUR COMMUNITIES: "50 YEARS AFTER THE DREAM" an issue which was the subject of discussion for the PLENARY SESSION composed of panelists Judge Craig Hannah; Legislator Betty Jean Grant; NYSMICJ Board Members Joseph Williams & Anthony Willingham and Moderated by Region 2 VP Ekpe D. Ekpe. There were other workshops such as Drugs, Music, and Violence; Workplace Bullying; Retirement Readiness; the Federal Bureau of lnvestigation; Strategies for the Future (In education); and Sergeant's Exam Review Class as discussed by Superintendent's Leroy Fields & Sandra Amoia-Kowalczyk. We were also welcome to the City of Buffalo by the Honorable Mayor Byron Brown and was keynote addressed by the Honorable Judge Barbara Howe.
In 2014 we held our Training Symposium in Albany, NY entitled Pathways to Empowerment! We were welcomed by the Honorable Mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan, and keynoted addressed by two individuals of enormous influence , the President and Dean of the Albany Law School, Penolope Andrews, & the Governor’s Deputy Secretary and Council for Civil Rights, Alphonso B. David. In addition, we had several workshops that addressed our theme of Empowerment such as the Prison to College Program, Law Enforcement and the Community, "BIAS-Do You Know Where You Stand" and "ORANGE is NOT the NEW BLACK".
In 2015 we held our symposium in Fishkill NY, under the theme "THE STRENGHTS OF DIVERSITY" we were pleased to have the opportunity to address the growing concerns about how to Break the School to Prison Pipeline and how to make Black Lives really matter as discussed by plenary leaders Poughkeepsie School Superintendent, Dr. Nicole Williams and Marist College Professor, Dr. Addrain Conyers respectively. Their respondents ranged from an array of Criminal Justice Agencies, such as the Dutchess County Probation Office, Children and Family Services, the Department of Correction and Community Supervision, and several Community-Based agencies. In addition, there were several workshops that addressed such subjects as "Promotional Interviewing", Healing Communities, Narcan Training, Toast Mastering, and "The Mentoring Process" to name just a few.
In 2016 we held our symposium in Albany, NY under the theme :"CRIMINAL JUSTICE: LOOKING FORWARD AND EMPHASIZING THE POSITIVES" in which we ask NYS Criminal Justice Agency heads and directors to render reports on the "The State of Diversity within New York State Criminal Justice Agencies" especially in regard to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of minorities in their agency's ! We also had an evening event wherein we gave awards to the following :
As with any organizations there are many misconceptions that may arise as it travels the course of time. However, as an organization that took our mission seriously we sought and fought to dispel those misconceptions by practicing what we preached. Over the years, we have addressed three significant myths and they were:
The organization had little or no influence with "Criminal Justice Agencies". This is, perhaps, the biggest myth of the three, as our historical development would suggest to the contrary, because we have indeed put our words (i.e. the mission statement) into practice and as a result have grown in statue and influence.
Misinformation can always lead to the creation of "Myths" but their eradication can always be effectively destroyed by "Truths”. In this regard, NYSMICJ's history of growth and subsequent influence, over the years, is consistent with our "Mission Statement" and is illustrated in at least four ways:
Through our Affiliations with Local, State, & National Criminal Justice organizations and other related agencies, many who have sought us out to emulate and be associated with what we were doing! To name a few:
Through our Charitable Contributions; from our inception the organization has embraced a philosophy of "giving back" in word and deed to have a positive impact on the communities in which we live and work in. Consider the following:
From year to year through our conferences and calls for meeting with Criminal Justice Agency heads, we have developed an on-going relationships with them and their executive staff. This relationship has enabled us to present to our membership a unique opportunity to dialogue and query the Agency CEO's through our "Commissioner's Forum".
Perhaps our most effective "Truth Disseminator" has been through our newsletters, "The Key" & "The Key Voices" which allowed our Presidents, specifically, and our membership, in general to communicate cogent analysis, opinions, and facts to one another as well as to those in the Criminal Justice community. Here are just a few excerpts from our Presidents and our Editorials:
NYS MICJ "Our History"
Revised 2012, 2016
1985-1986: Mr. Marion Borum
1986-1987: Dr. Cecil Canton
1988-1989: Mr. Bert Ross
1989-1990: Mr. Joseph Williams
1991-1992: Mr. Frank McCray
1993-1994: Dr. Cecil Canton
1995-1996: Ms. Alpina Taylor
1997-1998: Mr. Ekpe "Dan" Ekpe
1999-2000: Mr. Arthur Taggart
2001- 2002: Ms. Loyce Duke
2003-2004: Ms. Loyce Duke
2005-2006: Ms. Sandra Green
2007-2008: Rev. Les Carter
2008-2011: Mr. Anthony Wiley
2012-2013: Ms. Loyce Duke
2013-2016: Ms. Emily Williams
2014-2015: Ms. Emily Williams
2015-2016: Ms. Emily Williams