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Batesville woman recognized for outstanding work in parole, probation field

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published January 26, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

janis-walmsley-secretary-of-the-arkansas-board-of-corrections-left-and-dan-roberts-deputy-director-of-the-acc-paroleprobation-services-right-present-jana-vinson-assistant-area-manager-for-area-3-of-the-acc-paroleprobation-services-center-with-an-acc-gold-key-award-vinson-has-worked-with-the-acc-since-1989

Janis Walmsley, secretary of the Arkansas Board of Corrections, left, and Dan Roberts, deputy director of the ACC Parole/Probation Services, right, present Jana Vinson, assistant area manager for Area 3 of the ACC Parole/Probation Services, center, with an ACC Gold Key Award. Vinson has worked with the ACC since 1989.

BATESVILLE — Jana Vinson’s new year started off with some excitement when she received an Arkansas Community Correction’s Gold Key Award for Parole/Probation Supervisor of 2013.

The award was presented to Vinson at the Gold Key Award Luncheon the ACC has each year in Little Rock.

“I knew I had been nominated,” Vinson said. “I wasn’t going to go, but I thought, ‘Someone took the time to nominate me, so I should go.’ Then they called my name, and I went, ‘Wow.’”

The ACC’s mission is to “enhance public safety by encouraging a crime-free lifestyle and providing cost-effective, evidence-based programs for the supervision and treatment of adult offenders,” according to the organization’s website.

Tara Sharp, an ACC employee, was one of the people who nominated Vinson for the Gold Key Award.

“Jana works hard and is an excellent example of a hard-working, dependable and committed ACC employee,” Sharp wrote in her recommendation.

Vinson is the assistant area manager for the Arkansas Community Correction Parole-Probation office for Area 3 in Batesville.

Area 3 covers Prairie, White, Cleburne, Independence, Jackson, Sharp, Lawrence and Randolph counties.

She supervises parole and probation officers in the Batesville and Heber Springs ACC offices. She is also a motivational interviewing trainer and provides training to parole and probation officers statewide.

“I worked from 1989 to 2006 as a parole officer, and I’m still an officer, but I’m not out in the field as much,” Vinson said.

She’s worked for 25 years in the parole and probation field and doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon.

“I like working with the courts and the community,” Vinson said. “I work really close with law enforcement. It’s interesting and exciting.”

During her work as an officer out in the field, Vinson said, she wanted to stress that her job was to help others.

“People didn’t realize that the officers are really here to help. We’re not looking for reasons to send them back to prison. We’re looking to help,” she said.

She said the officers, however, need to recognize their limitations.

“There have been a couple of times over the years where a person will say, ‘I’m not going to jail,’” Vinson said. “And I told them, ‘You’re right; you’re not today. It’s just a matter of time.’ I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tackle them.”

Though her job presented its own set of challenges, she said that 90 percent of the time, the people she came in contact with were reasonable.

Vinson was hired by Circuit Judge John Dan Kemp in 1989.

“The excellent officers and staff I have in Area 3, as well as the cooperation and assistance we receive from Cleburne and Independence County communities, community officials and local law enforcement, makes my job as a supervisor easy,” Vinson said in a news release.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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