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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice


January 2020

Cleveland Unit renamed to honor former TBCJ Chairman Oliver J. Bell

In recognition of former Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) Chairman Oliver J. Bell’s history of outstanding service to the state of Texas and the criminal justice system, the TBCJ has renamed the TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division’s Cleveland Unit to the Oliver J. Bell Unit. The name change passed by a unanimous vote taken at the December TBCJ meeting in Austin.

In his address to the board, current Chairman Dale Wainwright commented on the former chairman’s tenure with the agency and his reaction to the proposed name change: “The prior chair of this board, Oliver Bell, served well on the board for more than a decade and, as chairman, for more than seven years on the board. It is our honor to propose renaming a TDCJ facility in honor of Mr. Bell’s service as chair. I had the privilege of contacting Mr. Bell about this honor the board was very interested in bestowing on him and he was thrilled.”

In conclusion, Wainwright noted that “I’ll have the honor of calling Chairman Bell and letting him know there’s a new sheriff in Cleveland.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and former U.S. Army Ranger, Bell was appointed to the TBCJ and the Board of Trustees of Windham School District in 2004 by Governor Rick Perry. He worked on the Education, Human Resources, Victim Services, Business and Financial Operations and Health Care committees, and served as board secretary and vice-chairman before assuming the chairman’s duties in 2008.

In 2014, during the final year of Bell’s chairmanship, TDCJ was honored to accept the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) prestigious Golden Eagle Award in recognition of the full accreditation for all operations in every agency facility.

Bell is well known for visiting TDCJ facilities throughout the state, where he would meet with staff and discuss ways to improve their workplace. His commitment to building strong, healthy work environments extends to his business career as founder and chief executive officer of Oliver J. Bell Incorporated, a Houston-based human resources and labor relations consultancy firm.

The dedication ceremony for the Oliver J. Bell Unit will be held on Friday, March 6. The Bell Unit is located one-quarter mile north of downtown Cleveland in Liberty County.