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Sanford Native Lori Marks Named US Corrections Officer of the Year

Lori Marks, a 1988 graduate of Sanford High School and employee of York County Jail, has been selected as Corrections Officer of the Year by the American Jail Association. She will be honored in May at the AJA’s National Convention in Long Beach, CA. She now lives in Alfred.

Now in her fifteenth year as a corrections officer, CO Marks said when she first applied for the position back in 2007, she was a single mom working multiple jobs. She was just looking for a position with stability and benefits, not necessarily a career. As a 99-pound woman, she wasn’t sure she would even be able to handle the job, but a friend who worked in corrections assured her it was more about attitude than muscle. With help from a friend who moved in to care for the kids while she was at work, she started working at the Jail on the midnight shift. She soon learned that being a CO was much different than how it is portrayed in movies and tv shows, much more about people skills than just being a “turnkey.”

She now calls herself “super passionate” about corrections work, in particular helping jail residents to get the help they need, and being a catalyst and role model to help them on the road to making better choices and turning their lives around. The job she initially sought for stable hours and benefits has turned into a “really rewarding career,” she adds.

The job is not without challenges, though. The current staffing shortage means she currently works between 65 and 72 hours per week.

CO Marks spends about 60% of her time at the Jail working directly with the residents. She also has administrative responsibilities, including serving as Classifications Officer. Her duties in that role include assessing residents for risk and needs to make sure they are housed appropriately. Other duties include calculating sentences with time served and credits for good behavior so residents are released at the proper time. She also oversees the Jail’s work program and is a charter member of York County’s Mental Health Docket Committee, which works to ensure corrections residents do not get lost in the system and languish in jail unnecessarily.

York County Sheriff William King said CO Marks was also instrumental in establishing a unit dedicated to residents involved in the Medication Assisted Treatment program for opioid addiction. He called her “a superstar” who cares deeply for the facility and its residents.

Major Nathan Thayer, Administrator of the Jail, praised her dedication. “She’s always there when you need her,” he said, and added that she has been pivotal in the recruiting and retention of employees. He said the AJA Selections Committee chose CO Marks for the honor by a unanimous vote.

CO Marks has twice been named Corrections Officer of the quarter and in 2018 was Corrections Officer of the Year for York County. With this latest honor, she can now add national recognition to her list of accomplishments.

L to R: Chief Deputy Forbes, Sheriff William King, CO Lori Marks and Major Nathan Thayer.
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