One Voice United Appointed Ken Dalley to Serve as Commissioner Focusing on Correctional Staff Wellness

First-ever Blue Ribbon Commission focusing on the deadly wellness crisis sweeping through the U.S. correctional system was held on May 13 in Washington D.C.
Kenzie Koch
Kenzie Koch

As a  global leader in inmate tracking and officer experience platforms (OXPs), GUARDIAN RFID  was pleased to announce that Ken Dalley, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Warrior of GUARDIAN RFID, was appointed as commissioner on the first-ever Blue Ribbon Commission in Washington D.C., hosted by One Voice United. One Voice United (OVU) consists of leading labor unions, corrections staff, criminal justice reform leaders, academics, and policy makers with the goal of advancing a unified approach to better inform the policies, programs and narratives that define criminal justice reform. 

The 14-member panel of Blue Ribbon commissioners included individuals with national standing who are not in the correctional workforce. 

  • Ken Dalley, Chairman and Chief Warrior of GUARDIAN RFID 
  • Rob English, Senior Organizer, Metro IAF 
  • Juan Gomez, Co-Founder and Executive Director, MILPA Collective 
  • Mary Kay Henry, International President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 
  • Julie James, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures 
  • Darielle Kennedy, Chair, Student Senate, Oberlin College 
  • Rev. Terrence Melvin, Secretary Treasurer, New York State AFL-CIO 
  • Brianna Nuhfer, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Stand Together 
  • Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism 
  • David Pitts, Director of the Prison Research & Innovation Initiative, Urban Institute 
  • Dr. Lisa Puglisi, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Yale 
  • Amanda Ripley, New York Times Best Selling Author, and Investigative Journalist
  • David Safavian, Director, ACUF's Nolan Center for Justice
  • Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Managing Director of Justice Initiatives, Chicago Beyond

The Blue Ribbon Commission spoke on topics surrounding the mental health crisis sweeping through the United States correctional system. The testimonies and responses from commissioners that were made on Friday, May 13, in Washington D.C. will be published in a national report presented to lawmakers and regulators addressing the correctional wellness crisis. Corrections practitioners testified on the deadly wellness crisis by explaining why most correctional officers have a significantly higher post traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) rate as compared to the general public. According to a survey conducted by One Voice United, staffing levels and job dangers are amongst the highest rated concerns by corrections professionals. While 80 percent reported that the incarcerated population is increasing at their facility, 98 percent reported that officer staffing levels are decreasing. Not only does the low pay and poor public image discourage officers to stay in the profession, but the tools they are provided to safeguard their mental health is at an all-time low. 

William Young, correctional officer, author, and influencer, was one of the commissioners at Blue Ribbon Commission who bravely shared, “We don’t know our enemy. We’re taught that the enemy is the population that we supervise, when in reality the enemy is the correctional environment in its entirety. Our enemy isn’t just the fights and the felons, it’s the culture. It’s the colorless, cold, and unforgiving concrete that confines not only those incarcerated but us as well.” A round of applause roared through the audience after William finished his piece as other commissioners and attendees alike agreed in unison that it’s the industry in general that’s the hurdle, not the those who are incarcerated. “We need to act. Together we have the ability, the power to rescue, to salvage, to save the lives of correctional officers by creating a movement that challenges our current culture and cultivates an environment where staff are comfortable to ask for help and are confident that they will find it,” said William.

 An average of three correctional officers die by suicide every week. This is a crisis that can’t go unaddressed. “One Voice United and the Blue Ribbon Commission sheds an important light on the mental health of our brothers and sisters in corrections. It was an honor to serve as commissioner. This work aligns with our mission at GUARDIAN RFID on getting your team home safe – both physically and mentally,” said Ken Dalley, Founder and Chief Warrior of GUARDIAN RFID. Ken, along with the rest of the GUARDIAN RFID team deeply commends each of those who testified with their meaningful stories at the Blue Ribbon Commission and honors those who go above and beyond in their duty protecting us behind the walls every single day. To watch the recording of the hearing on Correctional Staff Wellness Crisis, please visit this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMGSFQGvkK4. If you, or someone you know, think it’s time to reach out for support, please visit https://desertwaters.com/ to learn more about corrections-specific services which center on data-drive, skill-based training, research, and other psychoeducation products.