Madison-Oneida (MO) BOCES Adult Education Case Manager Melissa Hale has received a special commendation from Madison County Sherriff Todd Hood for her work during the COVID-19 pandemic to support inmates at the Madison County Jail.
Hale joined the BOCES Consortium of Continuing Education, an adult education partnership, in December. When COVID-19 forced the shutdown of all literacy education and outside programming at the jail three months later, she was considered essential personnel and quickly worked to coordinate with outside agencies on programming to continue supporting inmates’ needs, said MOBOCES.
“Due to Melissa’s actions, the safety and security of the facility was greatly enhanced while the inmates developed valuable skills,” Hood said in recognizing Hale’s work.
Since New York’s shelter-in-place rules went into effect, Hale has provided literacy packets to inmates who are earning their high school equivalency diplomas, and she transitioned the Law Library to tablets, said MOBOCES. She also developed nine virtual programs to support inmates with a variety of needs and issues, including securing technology and developing schedules to keep participating inmates on track. These free programs included Healthy Families, Narcan Training, Crossroads Community Church, AA and a Bible Study, and most are running at capacity.
“Community agencies were more than willing to work with me to set up virtual programming,” said Hale, who was surprised and honored to be recognized for her work. “I am so happy that the jail supported the idea of virtual programming and that we were able to work with other agencies to bring programming to the inmates during this time.”