Helping Detainees at the Willacy County Facility See a Better Future

“I think it’s just our culture to…kind of…’how can I make you better’?”

So says Rolando Trevino, deputy warden at the Willacy County Regional Detention Facility in Raymondville, Texas, where detainees’ stays are short, often just a matter of weeks.

Even so, the administration and staff are anxious to provide whatever programming opportunities they can.

“These detainees have realized that they can make their future very different from what their past has been,” says Senior Instructor Lorie Hernandez. “And so, to me, that is the most rewarding thing, when a detainee can now see a new way…looking through a new lens rather than seeing the way their life has been in the past.”

Christian Garcia, an academic instructor, agrees. “You can see a big change in their attitude, in their life. They put life goals and stuff like that. There is a big change in them. And, like I always tell them, that comes from each and every one of us wanting it to.”

Willacy County’s efforts to provide detainees with life skills is not lost on the community. Gilbert Gonzales is the mayor of Raymondville.

‘”As a city leader,” he states, “I believe in second chances. I believe in third chances. They are teaching them, they’re training them, they’re educating them.  They come out better than what they came in, yes.”

The key to the good work taking place at the Willacy County facility is the staff.

“The only way to describe it,” explains Deputy Warden Trevino, “it’s one big family. They like what they do. We have a very low turnover. We have a good staff, we really do. Our success is based on our staff.”

“Most of these detainees never had anybody that were able to encourage them,” says Lorie Hernandez, “[nobody tells] them, ‘hey, you’re doing a good job’, things like that. So, being able to lift these detainees and give them that encouragement, and say, ‘hey, you know, you’re doing good,’ giving them that praise, and [them] being able to see, ‘hey, you know what, somebody believes in me, somebody is telling me I’m doing a good job,’ to me, is priceless to be able to see that on a detainee’s face; having somebody believe in them.”

About Willacy County Regional Detention Facility

Willacy County Regional Detention Facility is accredited by the American Correctional
Association—achieving over 100% compliance for mandatory standards in its most
recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the National Commission on
Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).