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2015 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Beaumont Program Receives Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

Photo of Award Winner(s) From left to right: Keynote Speaker Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, members of the Winning Edge Program, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston and Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell.

(AUSTIN) – Robert L. Smith of Beaumont, Texas was presented with the “Most Innovative Program” award for “The Winning Edge” during the Governor’s 2015 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program today.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston during a ceremony held in Austin.

“We’re grateful for the efforts of these award recipients,” said Livingston. “These everyday heroes are making a profound and lasting impact on the lives of individuals across the State of Texas.”

“Through their grace and their love, these volunteers touch the lives of many Texans,” said Bell. “They assist agency staff, and they help the offenders and their families have a chance for a better life - impacting generations to come.”

While volunteering with a ministry program for TDCJ offenders, Mr. Smith realized that there was a similar need for the staff. This led to the founding of “The Winning Edge” which provides events such as Staff Appreciation Days, barbecues, Christmas donations for officers’ families and counseling resources. A recent Family Fun Day included fishing, water skiing, tubing and a fish fry.

“The Winning Edge” is one of 5 organizations and 16 individuals from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. They donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims.

In FY2014, there were 21,492 volunteers who served a total of 427,345 hours.

Note to media: For more information, contact Robert C. Hurst, TDCJ Public Information Officer, at 936-437-6052 or by e-mail at Photos of award recipients will be available on the TDCJ Web site at For high resolution photos, please contact Jene Andersen at