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2015 Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards

Houston Man Receives Governor’s Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award

Photo of Award Winner(s) From left to right: Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, former TBCJ Chairman Carol S. Vance, Keynote Speaker Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, John Jones, Javier Pulido and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston. Tom’s brother John accepted the award on his behalf.

(AUSTIN) – Tom Owens of Houston, Texas was presented the Carol S. Vance Volunteer of the Year Award 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.”

Over the past 18 years, Mr. Owens has been a mentor in the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) where he has mentored hundreds of participants. He initiated programs that are still vital to IFI’s success including participation in Habitat for Humanity’s “Build 100 Houses in 100 Days” and the Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree Celebrations.

As participants in “Habitat for Humanity” in Houston, IFI offenders built 210 homes.

The Angel Tree Celebrations inside the Carol Vance Unit in Richmond, Texas has allowed hundreds of children to enjoy Christmas with their incarcerated fathers.

In 1999, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice named the Volunteer of the Year Award after Carol S. Vance, former TDCJ Chairman and Board Member, former TDCJ Programs Committee Chair and currently Chaplaincy volunteer (since 1996) at the Darrington and Jester Units. This award recognizes his many contributions in the development of rehabilitative programming offered to offenders to effect change.

Mr. Owens is one of 16 individuals and 5 organizations 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