When you hear the word innovation, you may think of technological advances like the internet, the smart phone, or GPS. For organizations like CoreCivic, innovations can be technical, but more often they make up unique, working solutions to the challenges facing the enterprise, the nation and those in our care.
Since the company was founded 40 years ago, it hasn't stopped innovating. In fact, the existence of our industry was an innovation in its time. Today, the same spirit of flexibility, problem-solving, and out-of-the-box thinking that prompted our founding runs deep through the company's culture—so much so that a Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) was recently appointed to spearhead those efforts.
Lucibeth Mayberry, formerly executive vice president of Real Estate at CoreCivic, was named CINO in 2022. In this newly created role, she oversees innovation efforts across the organization, while leading the CoreCivic Community and Properties segments. Mayberry points back to her innovation team, made up of employees at all levels of the organization, as pivotal to our innovation success.
"The committee meets regularly and when an idea is brought to the table, often it can be vetted very quickly to determine its feasibility," said Mayberry. "From there, it may advance to a tabletop exercise where we quickly determine which ideas to elevate and who to engage next."
The types of innovation the team explores can vary greatly and no idea is too big or small. If it has the potential to positively impact the organization or the people it serves, it is up for discussion. Ideas range from reentry programs to facility construction improvements to, more recently, ways to address the national labor shortage.
"One of the innovations I am most proud of to date is our work to provide employee housing in rural areas where we operate," said Mayberry. "We realized that a lack of housing was impacting our ability to hire and retain staff. Thanks to the work of the innovation team, we now have seven different employee housing options in five states."
Another way the innovation team remains successful is by staying ahead of conversations in the criminal justice space and by forecasting future needs. Mayberry says the goal is to not wait until it's time to make a move, but to prepare ahead of time.
"We are always looking at how we can advance our mission in the future," said Mayberry. "For example, mental health is an important part of the reentry discussion, so we are looking at how facility designs can impact a person's mental health, down to the landscaping."
Next level correctional design is something CoreCivic has been spearheading for some time, including the integration of environmentally friendly construction elements and normalization projects to make facilities feel less institutional and more like home. CoreCivic Community rolled out a widespread normalization project in its reentry centers throughout 2021 and 2022.
Whether they are exploring a reentry program, employee housing, facility normalization or a host of other innovations, Mayberry and her team always have the end goal in mind.
"Our first goal is to operate our facilities well. If we can do that then everything else tied to our mission will follow," said Mayberry. "We are committed to improving outcomes for those in our care; to the extent we can do that, I call it success in innovation."