Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes gave hearty congratulations today to three individuals from the Mercer County Correction Center-a literacy mentor and two inmates-who were honored at yesterday's Literacy Best Practices Conference for their outstanding achievements in education and literacy improvement.

James W. Parrott, Jr. received the 2007 Mercer County Literacy Consortium Award of Excellence for his work as a literacy educator for the Correction Center. Parrott has helped countless inmates develop and improve their literacy skills, and has enabled individuals leaving the facility to pursue challenging professional jobs and put their lives back on track.

Inmate Thomas Bethea received the 2007 Mercer County Literacy Consortium Stellar Award for his zealous pursuit of education while serving time at the Correction Center. Bethea's thirst for knowledge and commitment to self-improvement through education has inspired many of his fellow inmates to pursue literacy training and other educational enrichment opportunities.

Inmate Michael Sansom received an Honorable Mention for attaining his State GED and encouraging others serving time at the Correction Center to pursue their own educational goals.

"I want the whole community to know that rehabilitative justice does work," said Hughes. "Incarceration without rehabilitation accomplishes nothing, and often simply reinforces the very behaviors it seeks to eradicate. By contrast, when we provide meaningful education and enrichment opportunities to inmates at our Correction Center, we give them the tools to leave crime behind and achieve financial success through positive endeavors. Focusing on prevention of future criminal activity rather than mere punishment for past infractions is key to making our communities safer."