Today@Sam Article

CMIT Executive Director Awarded Highest Honor In Corrections Field

Feb. 2, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


Doug Dretke, executive director of Sam Houston State University’s Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), has been named a recipient of the 2024 E. R. Cass Correctional Achievement Award by the American Correctional Association. The recognition honors the most dedicated corrections professionals and is considered the highest accolade in the industry.

Dretke follows in the footsteps of George J. Beto, who received the award in 1972.

“I am so deeply honored and humbled by this recognition,” Dretke said. “I am rarely at a loss for words, but I find it difficult to fully convey the level of emotion I feel with this honor.”

While Dretke is honored by the award, he shares this award with his CMIT colleagues and the SHSU community. Without their support, the outstanding work that he and his peers produce would not be possible. 

Phillip Lyons, SHSU College of Criminal Justice dean, says the honor is well deserved.

“Doug’s contributions to the criminal justice field of corrections are wide and comprehensive,” Lyons said. “During his tenure with CMIT, he has cemented the SHSU College of Criminal Justice as a training destination for corrections professionals from around the world. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

The award is a capstone of sorts as Dretke transitions into retirement after serving 17 years as the executive director of CMIT and a 26-year career with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

Dretke is also a proud alum of the SHSU College of Criminal Justice. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1980, he began his career with TDCJ as a corrections officer.

Throughout his career, he served in many roles, including as a warden at two TDCJ facilities and later retiring as director of TDCJ’s prison division in 2006.

The experience helped shape his philosophy of a corrections leader and how they impact not only the facility, but the communities they serve.

“I’m passionate about what our correctional systems looks like,” Dretke said. “We have a sharp focus on making our communities safer through the work we do in corrections. We do that through how we treat the people in our custody. When we turn them out from under our supervision, they are healthier people. And we make the community a safer place to live.”

Dretke brought that philosophy with him as he began his tenure with CMIT in 2006.

Under his leadership, the institute enhanced its already robust repertoire of professional development programs for corrections officials. As the list of programs grew, so did CMIT’s reputation, resulting in collaborations across the United States including an international training program which welcomes corrections officials from around the globe.

“I often say this position (CMIT) is the best correctional position in the United States,” Dretke said. “It’s an incredible dream to serve in an arena that’s focused on serving the full spectrum of correctional professionals including juvenile and adult probation jails, prisons and parole.”

When asked about his legacy, Dretke hopes his service made a positive difference.

“I hope part of my legacy is impacting people in their leadership role,” Dretke said. “How they treat other people with respect, people they serve with and the dignity of each of us.”

For more information, visit the Correctional Management Institute of Texas website or the American Correctional Association webpage.

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