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Rehabilitation Programs Division

Volunteer Services Program

2012 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

San Antonio Ministry Receives Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award

Photo of Award Winner(s)

(Austin) - During ceremonies in Austin today, Billy and Jacqueline Thornton and Cathe Graves accepted the Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer "Susan Cranford" Award on behalf of the The Grace House. The ministry operates a faith based, non-denominational halfway house for female offenders.

The award was presented by Oliver Bell, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston.

"Each of this year's award recipients personify a selfless dedication to helping offenders succeed both while incarcerated, and once they're released," said Livingston.

The Grace House has been home to eighty-seven women since it opened its doors in the fall of 2004. Thirty-five of these women have successfully completed and graduated from the entire program offered through The Grace House. The alumni (including those who were residents for 90 days or longer but did not graduate from the program) are all living clean, productive lives. Eight of the program graduates are now currently enrolled in college. The female residents of The Grace House proactively pursue their goals because they now know they are achievable. Grace House has twelve volunteers who teach weekly classes with nine women who are serving as mentors for their residents

This award is named as a tribute to Susan Cranford who passed away in March 2007 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Susan, a former Windham School District and TDCJ employee, served the Agency for 28 years. Susan Cranford's innovative thinking and relentless desire to improve criminal justice programs for females gained her a well-deserved national reputation as an expert on women's issues in the field of corrections, both from the staff and offender perspectives.

Billy and Jacqueline Thornton are the founders of the Grace House. For the past 20 years, the Thornton's have been teaching a weekly bible class at the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. They have one son and one granddaughter.

Cathe Graves serves at the Executive Director of the Grace House. She started in 2005 as a volunteer and has been the Executive Director since 2006. Graves has three daughters, 4 grandchildren, and one great grand child.

The Grace House is one of 6 organizations and 13 individuals from across the state recognized today for their efforts to help offenders and those who are on parole or probation.

Note to media: For more information, contact Jason Clark, TDCJ Public Information Officer, at 936-437-6052 or by e-mail at