When Tammy Shaw began her career as a
corrections officer at the Calgary Remand Centre nearly
18 years ago, it didn’t take long before she recognized an
“Same faces, same types of crimes and no change in
what they were doing or in their behaviour.”
Until then, education and treatment programs weren’t
high priorities at the remand facility because it was seen as
a temporary home for inmates while they waited out legal
proceedings. Shaw, though, saw an opportunity.
“They’re all just sitting in jail waiting for trial,” Shaw
thought. “Why not make better use of their time by trying
to offer them new skills?”
With her boss’s support, she developed the Treatment
Knowledge and Opportunity, or TKO, program to help
connect inmates to important community and health
“It really addresses their issues with addiction and
mental health, their recovery and their life skills. It also
connects the participants with local community agencies
that can help them in the community when they get out of
For Steven Lynn, TKO was a lifeline. After years of
scores a TKO at
Tammy Shaw developed the Treatment
Knowledge and Opportunity program
battling addictions and behavioural issues, he was
arrested in February 2015.
“ I saw it as a chance to finally give myself an
opportunity to succeed,” Lynn says.
Today, the 45-year-old inmate says he has a new lease
on life and is also mentoring others while he waits for his
Christine Sturgeon is a community educator with
Alberta Health Services’ Sexual and Reproductive Health
who’s been working with the TKO program since it began
three years ago. She says the community gains as much
from the program as the inmates who participate in it.
“When they’re done their program and move in next
door, or down the street, I’ve got somebody healthier
instead of somebody still living with a disease.”
As of October 2015, more than 460 inmates had
graduated from the program, and the number of repeat
offenders at the centre has dropped nearly 10 per cent.
“We’re planting seeds,” Shaw says. “For the first time
in their lives, [inmates] are actually doing something for
themselves that will make them feel better.”
— francis Silvaggio
Our Praising Passion column celebrates inspiring Albertans who
go above and beyond to improve the health and well-being of
others. if you know someone worthy of profiling, contact us at
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The TKO program Tammy Shaw created helps connect inmates at the Calgary
Remand Centre to important community and health partners.