New recruitment campaign for corrections officers kicks off in June 2024

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Hālawa Correctional Facility ACO Carl Dunaway with a paid actor (left). PC: DCR TV spot (Screenshot at 00:16)

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is kicking off a new multi-pronged recruitment campaign for adult corrections officers (ACO) beginning today.

The department officially transitioned from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) on Jan. 1, 2024, and began to ramp up its recruitment efforts with radio spots and paid social media campaigns, in addition to continued participation in job fairs.

The DCR plans to double its graduating classes this year, from two to three classes a year to six classes. To do this, ACO recruit training has been compressed from 11 to eight weeks, while still covering the basics, the department stated in a public release.


The first adult corrections officer class of the year had 30 graduates, who celebrated the completion of their 300-hour basic corrections recruit course in March 2024. Another class of 13 graduates completed the course in May 2024.

“Despite these positive changes, we know there is more we can do,” said DCR Director Tommy Johnson. The department has filled an estimated 1,125 adult corrections officer positions statewide, but there are nearly 400 vacant positions, according to the DCR.

The DCR says having more staff reduces its overtime costs, helps create a more optimal work environment for ACOs and opens up new opportunities for inmates, such as attending additional programming that prepares them for release.

The department is seeking certain qualities in new recruits.


“Weʻve transitioned from what some have seen as a punitive model, to a rehabilitative and restorative model of justice,” said Johnson. “We’re looking for employees with a genuine desire to help others succeed in life. We want adult corrections officers who see the potential in the inmates and are willing to serve as mentors, to help them successfully reintegrate back into the community.”

Ad campaign

“Unlocking Potential” 30-second spot. Courtesy of NMG Network, DCR, SCS

The new campaign, called “Unlocking Potential,” centers on the department’s goal and vision of rehabilitation. The campaign by Strategic Communication Solutions, featuring a TV advertisement, shows the mentoring relationship between an ACO and an inmate, and the progression of the inmate’s readiness for the outside world. It will be shown at Consolidated and Regal theaters statewide, from June 10 though Sept. 1, 2024.

A 15-second version of the spot will be geotargeted to those who go to the movies, which means they will see the same message when they use various apps. Those who live in the areas near the theaters will also see the same message when streaming on their mobile devices.


Featured in the spot is Carl Dunaway, a veteran corrections officer at the Hālawa Correctional Facility (HCF). The role of the inmate is played by an actor.

In addition to the spots, the DCR also produced three videos featuring three ACOs — Dunaway, Chief of Security Maj. Joanna-Jacklyn “Jojo” White and Sgt. Nani Cossey, also of HCF — who tell their story of how they became corrections officers and why they continue to serve in their respective roles. The videos will be posted on the DCR website and shown at job fairs.

Dunaway, who has been a corrections officer at HCF for the past 34 years, started after graduating from high school.

In the video, he describes how he overcame adversity that he faced in his youth. “I grew up in the foster care system and had to face all types of challenges, but I had a good role model in my early years, Father Phil Harmon. I was lucky that I was able to stay on the right path, and now I have a chance to be a role model and a mentor for these inmates so that they can become productive members of society,” said Dunaway.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments