After spending 30 years in prison, Percy Pitzer is determined to keep others from serving jail time. Upon retirement as a warden with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Pitzer worked in private corrections for several years. In 2002, he began Creative Corrections, an international consulting company based in Beaumont.
In 2012, Pitzer founded Creative Corrections Education Foundation (CCEF),
a nonprofit organization headquartered in Beaumont to provide educational opportunities to children of incarcerated parents through scholarships
and other creative strategies. "It's cheaper to send a kid to Yale than to jail and
that's our goal...to keep young kids from going to prison," said Pitzer, a Vietnam Veteran. "As many as 50 percent of juvenile delinquents are children
with an incarcerated parent, so second generation crime is very real."
The average annual cost of maintaining one prisoner is $24,000 while the average cost to send one student to college for a year including books, room
and board is $17,000. Pizer and his wife of 43 years, Sununt, initially funded CCEF with a personal donation of $100,000, and to date 12 scholarships have been awarded to qualifying applicants around the country. However more donations are needed to ensure success, and Pitzer is carrying his message for support to the community and back to prison.
"I visited a high security prison and talked to 400 inmates because I want inmates to contribute; we're supporting their kids. Talking to a group of
100 inmates at a time, I got a standing ovation. Just because a person is in prison doesn't mean they don't care about their kids. It means they ended
up in prison. The overwhelming majority still care about their kids."
Stopping the cycle of second generation crime is a small pursuit to Pitzer's mammoth long-term mission- prison reform. "I've seen a lot over 25 years. The Bureau of Prisons is a very good organization, one of the best in government at trying to do the job the way it's designed but there's some shortcomings in government and it's not the fault of the Bureau. They keep locking up more people and the resources don't increase so what happens? They are expected
to do a lot more with a whole lot less. With the amount of people being incarcerated, the resources are spread across. We need to revisit what we're
doing and come up with alternatives."
In April of this year, some of Pitzer's alternative ideas were published in the American Bar Association Journal titled, "Over Incarceration from the
Perspective of a Retired Warden." Some of Pitzer's ideas include utilizing technology to monitor white-collar criminals (2/3 of inmates in the U.S. are nonviolent criminals.) instead of sentencing them to serve time; reviewing mandatory sentencing and giving judges more discretion; assisting inmates with reentry to society to reduce the 41 percent recidivism rate and sending kids of
incarcerated parents to school instead of prison. To join Pitzer in his efforts, contact CCEF at 409.861.2536 and visit the Foundation website at