Kenneth James 

Kenneth James 

Kenneth L. James

Kenneth L. James has dedicated his career to creating a corrections system that centers human dignity at every level. As the agency Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Mr. James has made an indelible mark on the corrections landscape, locally and nationally, protecting incarcerated individuals from sexual abuse and harassment. 

One of Mr. James’s standout accomplishments is establishing advocacy partnerships that are a model for the nation. South Carolina correctional facilities provide office space for community-based rape crisis advocates, giving incarcerated survivors ready access to counseling and practical help. Mr. James was also instrumental in launching Pathfinders, a program that trains incarcerated people as advocates to support their peers. He believes individuals deserve every opportunity to heal from the trauma they have experienced and lead whole lives.   

Respected by his colleagues for his leadership and commitment to excellence, Mr. James serves on the National PREA Coordinator Working Group steering committee. He provides guidance to state PREA coordinators, addressing the nuances of their work. Mr. James insists that every report be taken seriously. At a national conference of corrections administrators, he stated that of the 400 sexual abuse reports he has reviewed during his tenure, every single one represented a real need that someone had, even if it wasn’t specifically about sexual abuse.   

Mr. James has a talent for building strong teams and mentoring staff to be leaders. With more than 20 years’ experience in the field of corrections, he knows the challenges staff face and what the job demands. Linda McFarlane, executive director of Just Detention International, says, “He’s able to keep the needs of staff and of incarcerated people in mind at the same time – he doesn’t see this work as a zero-sum game.”   

Mr. James wants the public to see the positive things corrections officers do every day for incarcerated people and for society. He talks about creating a TV series like NYPD Blue that focuses on corrections officers. He says it could be a recruiting tool for people to become corrections officers because they want to be heroes and help people live better lives. 

For making a lasting impact on the lives of those within the correctional system, EVAWI honors Kenneth L. James as a Champion of Change – not only for his professional achievements but for the values he embodies.