Gravenhurst resident Daryl McCullough has been awarded the 2019 Taylor Award by Correctional Service Canada (CSC).

The Taylor Award was created in November 2001. It’s named after Dr. Charles and Charlotte Taylor of Wolfville, Nova Scotia in dedication of their years of faith-based counselling in correctional facilities. Dr. Taylor also contributed to the development of prison ministry education. 

The award is handed out every year to someone who has shown exceptional dedication to volunteering with CSC.

McCullough has spent over 20 years working with inmates at the Beaver Creek Institution in Gravenhurst. “I feel a massive amount of indebtedness to the people that have worked with me,” he tells the newsroom. “They all deserve a piece of this award.” 

He credits his late wife Janice for being the driving force in his life. McCullough says she passed away last year. “Whenever I thought about packing it in she continued and encouraged me to keep going,” he says. 

“As a trained citizen escort, he has regularly escorted offenders on temporary absences into the community, an initial step in an inmate’s reintegration plan,” the write-up on McCullough from CSC reads. “He has consistently facilitated faith-based programs, including Authentic Man and Principles of Restorative Justice, as well as provided one-on-one spiritual counselling and mentorship. Darryl took the lead role in developing and maintaining a work release volunteer driver schedule, and actively recruited members of the community to participate as drivers for this daily program. He also continually promoted this program with the leaders of various local companies, encouraging them to consider hiring inmates.”

“The only difference between their sins and my sins is theirs are public record,” McCullough says of the inmates he’s worked with. 

McCullough is a champion for restorative justice and the community’s involvement in that model. “We as a community put people behind bars and say the government will straighten them out,” he says. McCullough says when inmates do leave prison, the community bears some responsibility to help them. “Almost everyone in prison will come out,” he says. “The question is how do we want them out.”

He says helping integrate inmates back into society can start when they’re behind bars with something like a letter-writing program. Once they get released, he says that can continue by allowing them to volunteer in roles like what he does.