Thursday, 4 August 2016

John MacKenzie's Correctional History (Woodbourne 1999 to the present day)

In December of 1999, after serving nearly twenty-five years in maximum-security prisons, John was finally transferred to Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison. John immediately went to work for the Community Preparation Program, (now known as Transitional Services) and continued as a Peer Counselor. He also decided to devote some of his time and energy working in the recreation department as an IPA (Inmate Program Assistant) for the music program. Because of his computer skills and his educational background, he was soon asked to work as the Recreation Office Clerk. He immediately set out to automate the office inventory system and other important aspects of the recreation department. Soon thereafter, John received two Commendable Reports from recreation supervisors commending John not only for his devotion to the work ethic, but also for his dedication and contributions to the operation of the Recreation Department. He would eventually be given one of the few Special Assignment titles in the prison. Aside from his work assignments, John was elected ILC Chairman (Inmate Liason Committee) and President of the Brothers of Ireland Organization. John also took time out to learn welding and received a certificate for Brazing, Welder’s Helper and Acetylene Welder/Cutter.

Unfortunately, and in stark contrast to his many years of interaction and networking with outside agencies and participation in various programs while in maximum-security prison, John found it difficult, if not impossible to get support for his victims program. Although many people in the community supported his efforts, including Assemblywoman A. Gunther and Congressman Maurice Hinchey, DOCCS never approved the program for Woodbourne. It is interesting to note that as of now there is still no formal functioning Victims Awareness Program in New York State prisons. Nonetheless, John still continued to write to various agencies and politicians in an attempt to get support for his program.

Having successfully demonstrated his genuine desire to effect positive change in himself and to help others do the same, John continued growing and in doing so acquired a number of impressive credentials including three college degrees; a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science. Among the many certificates are: Small Business Management, Youth Counseling, IGRC Chairman, Respiratory Rescue, Pre Release Counseling Aide, Apprentice Baker, Typist, Career Planning, Substance Abuse Program, AIDS Teaching Assistant, Adult Peer Counseling, Labor Market Counseling, Tutoring Computers and Algebra, Legal Research, Peer Counseling, National Trust, Welding and Certificates of Appreciation from the Veteran’s Project, Black History Month Committee, WCF Recreation Department, as well as myriad letters of commendation and support.

In December 2014, John was transferred to Fishkill Correctional Facility 
where he worked as an inmate grievance resolutions clerk.

At seventy years old, John was plagued with a variety of medical problems. He had served almost 41 years of a 25-year-to-life sentence. Even though he had demonstrated that he was in fact a changed man and could once again become a productive, caring member of society, he was denied parole ten times for the one thing that could never change, the nature of his crime.