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Kump lauded for workplace justice quest

December 17, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

In the 1960s, when he was a student at North Hagerstown High School, Hagerstown Junior College and then Frostburg State, Larry Kump had no idea that he would end up in prison.

Kump has spent 12 years as a case manager specialist at Roxbury Correctional Institution near Hagerstown.

In November, Kump, 55, was named the Maryland Classified Employees Association member of the year for the Western Maryland region.

Kump was honored for his tireless advocacy for workplace justice, including better pay and benefits for his fellow correctional employees, according to his award.

"I was surprised," Kump said from his Falling Waters, W.Va., home, where he is on medical leave. "I told them they didn't have to do this because I've been sick."

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Kump said MCEA officials assured him it was his work that got him noticed, not his illness. Over the years, Kump has served as president and vice president of the MCEA chapter in Hagerstown, which is composed of fellow case managers and other nonuniformed public safety employees.

Kump's career in public service began in the early 1970s, when he worked with the Pennsylvania State legislature before joining MCEA as a labor relations specialist in 1972.

He then worked for eight years as executive director of the Indiana State Employees Association before returning to Maryland and the MCEA as a rank-and-file member. He started his correctional career at Roxbury in 1991.

As a case manager, Kump works with about 220 inmates.

"I've found that even with the most hardened criminals, if you're honest and consistent with them, they will respond," Kump said. "My experiences have been fairly positive."

Case managers research criminal history, provide professional testimony at parole and court hearings, interview inmates and develop individual rehabilitation plans.

One concern for Kump, he said, is the scarcity of addictions counselors within Maryland's prisons.

"The new administration is doing better at that, I'm happy to say," Kump said.

On medical leave since July, Kump is battling cancer for the second time.

"I feel guilty being home, but I still get tired very easily," Kump said.

He's hoping to be back on the job in early January if all goes well.

He wanted to thank his state employee co-workers who have donated their vacation, sick and personal leave in his time of need.

"A personal note of sympathy and encouragement from Governor Ehrlich to me on Sept. 4 was a big boost to my spirits, as well as being honored by the Maryland Classified Employees Association," Kump said.

After getting his degree from Frostburg, Kump worked in a bank and as a certified public accountant for a while. Neither suited him, so he began to explore labor relations as a career.

There Kump found his niche.

As far as working within a prison setting, Kump said he never thought he would do that for a living.

"I never took any criminal justice courses, but my life experiences in mediation and interviewing taught me a lot," he said.

Kump said he is proud of his contributions, both to the inmates he serves at Roxbury and to the goals of the MCEA. And he also is proud to be the father of Sarah, 26, and David, 29.

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