Trials And Tribulation of The Implementation of a Gender Responsive Unit: What Does That Look Like?


Tuesday, January 24, 2023
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Session Type: Workshop

The implementation of starting a gender responsive unit of justice-involved women has its share of challenges. These challenges range from the sustainability of an all-female staff, recognition of your own triggers as a female, transference of feelings and past trauma, and a host of other things that may cause female community field probation/parole staff to feel apprehensive about supervising an all-female caseload. Of course, there are some truths behind the feelings of apprehensiveness, but there is also a since of discovery! A sense of knowing the stories of justice impacted women and understanding what may have led them on a particular journey can help assist with an understanding and changing of your own mindset. Knowing how to meet them where they are, and/or knowing your own challenges can be beneficial for yourself, while it helps you cope, assist, and connect with justice-involved women.


Lydia Dethrow
Senior Parole Agent, IL Department of Corrections

I have been an employee of IDOC since June 2009. I have spent the last 13 years working at various facilities first as a Correctional Officer at Stateville Correctional Center, a Correctional Treatment Officer Supervisor (Lieutenant) at Joliet Treatment Center and now a Senior Correctional Parole Agent in Chicago. I have been given the opportunity to be trained by so many great leaders within the Department in all different capacities and it has been very rewarding for me as a woman in Corrections. During this time, I have been a Lieutenant and a Firearms Range Instructor (FRIT), and I have received training for Sex Offender Unit and Female Individual Specialized Unit (FISU) in the parole division. The training I received from the FISU has enabled me to be compassionate to the needs of female parolees but also to individualize each parolee and look at the unique set of circumstances each parolee has that has made them a part of the criminal justice system. In the FISU, I have been able to engage with the female population with the understanding that many have suffered from trauma or distress in their life and my job is to offer support and to assist in the transformation from victim to victor. I feel very fortunate working in the FISU, and it has helped me grow, not only in my profession, but also as a person.

Lynette Faulkner
Parole Commander, IL Department of Corrections

Lynette Faulkner started her career with the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2000 as a Correctional Officer at Joliet Correctional Center. She was promoted to Parole Agent in 2004 where she performed professional field work and case management for juveniles and adult parolees. During her career as a Parole Agent, she worked in various positions including specialized units and as the division’s Training Coordinator. She was promoted to Parole Commander in 2018 where she supervised Parole Agents who monitored parolees in the community while implementing policies and procedures of the Illinois Department of Corrections. She is currently the Parole Commander for the Female Individuals Specialized Unit (FISU) where she supervises Female Parole Agents who are required to independently supervise women who have experienced trauma and assist with reintegration into the community utilizing trauma-informed care and gender responsive methods. Specialized training for FISU consisted of Women’s in Corrections, Women’s Risk Needs Assessments, Justice Involved Women, Healing Trauma of Women, Gender Responsive 101 (GR 101), and Creating Regulation and Resilience (C/R 2). Commander Faulkner earned her B.A. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Governors State University. Her focus is advocating for children, adolescents, and women from underserved populations and communities. She demonstrates this by providing therapy and coping strategies through interventions that are individualized and family based. Her interests are correlating co-occurring disorders between mental health, substance abuse, and criminal activity in pursuit of combating self-defeating behaviors. She believes that with the knowledge and application of evidence and peer-based treatments, stigmas associated with these help-seeking populations will be lessened.

Chief Jason Garnett, PhD
Chief of Parole, IL Department of Corrections

Jason Garnett was named chief of the Parole Division for the Illinois Department of Corrections on June 1, 2017. In his position, he oversees the supervision of parole staff and parolees in all 102 counties in Illinois. A veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections, Garnett began his career as a correctional officer at Centralia Correctional Center in 1994 and rose through the ranks, promoting to upper management and executive staff positions.

Kimberly M Johnson
Senior Parole Agent, IL Department of Corrections

Agent Kimberly M. Johnson started her career in the Illinois Department of Corrections as a Correctional Officer at Joliet Correctional Center in 1999. In 2002 she transferred to Stateville Correctional Center where she was promoted to Counselor in 2016 and ran the prisons Notice of Charges department handling parole violators. In 2018 she promoted out to the Parole Division where she has worked in multiple offices and several specialized units before coming into the Female Individual Specialized Unit when it began in November 2021. Kimberly is passionate about gender responsive parole practices and utilizing empathy and positive reinforcement to foster successful outcomes for parole clientele.

Donna Rixey
Parole Agent, IL Department of Corrections