Department of Adult Correction honors top prison employees

An officer who exemplifies the leadership, team orientation and independent judgment required of frontline prison staff was named the state’s Correctional Officer of the Year on Wednesday.

Officer Thomas Dula of Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville was honored alongside other prison employees during the N.C. Department of Adult Correction’s annual awards ceremony for its Division of Institutions, announced the department.

“We are here to celebrate excellence, the best of the best,” Secretary of Adult Correction Todd Ishee told attendees. “You are guiding lights in the dark that can seem dangerous or daunting. How many times have you run toward danger, not away from it? Your work does not go unnoticed.”

Warden of the Year David Millis of Craven Correctional Institution was announced in January.

Other award winners included:

Heroism — Joshua Barnes, housing unit manager at Maury Correctional Institution, who immediately responded to an offender assault on a staff member in October, preventing more serious injury.

Above and Beyond — Correctional Officer Sarah Turpin of Carteret Correctional Center, for taking charge of efforts to boost morale among Carteret staff and for reaching out to the surrounding community for assistance in demonstrating appreciation for the staff’s hard work and dedication.

Sergeant — Gerald Freeman, Randolph Correctional Center, Central Region, for taking upon himself the mentorship of new staff members, providing a role model of a corrections professional.

Regional sergeants of the year recognized were:

Eastern — Leola Hunt, Bertie Correctional Institution

South Central — William Parraz, Sampson Correctional Institution

Western — Shannon Smith, Alexander Correctional Institution.

Custody Supervisor — Associate Warden Curtis Ward Jr., Nash Correctional Institution, Central Region, who as a captain in 2023 created initiatives to improve the health and well-being of both offenders and staff: organizing intramural athletics for offenders to defuse tensions, and coordinating a “biggest loser” weight loss competition for staff.

Regional custody supervisor nominees were:

Eastern — Matthew Wood, housing unit manager, Roanoke River Correctional Institution

South Central — Capt. Pamphylia Odom, Lumberton Correctional Institution

Western — Capt. Tonia Warnic, Piedmont Correctional Institution.

Associate Warden — John Gray, Maury Correctional Institution, Eastern Region, for initiating practices such as ensuring new staff are thoroughly trained in emergency procedures, and for balancing his facility responsibilities with leadership of the Eastern Region Prison Emergency Response Team (PERT).

Regional associate warden nominees were:

South Central — Shawn Britt, Lumberton Correctional Institution

Western — Gregory Swink, Mountain View Correctional Institution.

DAC also recognized Correctional Officers of the Year from each of its 55 facilities statewide.

Eastern Region

Bertie Correctional Institution — Aaron Rice

Carteret Correctional Center — Theresa Szczepaniak

Craven Correctional Institution — Jose Martinez

Eastern Correctional Institution — Melanie Anderson

Greene Correctional Institution — Tiana Reid

Hyde Correctional Institution — Aaron Stevens

Johnston Correctional Institution — Louis Lydell Hinton

Maury Correctional Institution — Ryan Chapman

Neuse Correctional Institution — Tekesha Sanders

Pamlico Correctional Institution — Ethan Fitzgerald

Pasquotank Corre4ctional Institution — Andre Cherry

Roanoke River Correctional Institution — Hildegarde Bobbitt

Tyrrell Prison Work Farm — Jonathan Summerlin

Central Region

Caswell Correctional Center — Joshua Green

Central Prison — Sarah Apa

Dan River Prison Work Farm — Thomas Lee Allen

Franklin Correctional Center — Kenneth Penderman Jr.

Granville Correctional Center—Tracy Capehart

Nash Correctional Institution — Cheryl Shaw

NC Correctional Institution for Women — Darwin Freeman

North Piedmont CRV — Jasmine Dudley

Orange Correctional Center—Domenic Langley

Randolph Correctional Center — Ellery Myrick

Wake Correctional Center — Michael Delorian Broady

Warren Correctional Institution — Michael Phillips

Western Correctional Center for Women — Veronica Rutherford

South Central Region

Albemarle Correctional Institution — Brian Sanders

Anson Correctional Institution — Cora Cash

Columbus Correctional Institution — Harold Fowler

Harnett Correctional Institution — Jerry Hunt

Lumberton Correctional Institution — William Stacy Jacobs

New Hanover Correctional Institution — Wendy Bryant

Pender Correctional Institution — Gary Botzenhart

Richmond Correctional Institution — Carol Ingram

Robeson CRV — Stacie Oxendine

Sampson Correctional Institution — Libby Wilson

Sanford Correctional Center — Philip Vurro

Scotland Correctional Institution — Darryl Bennett

Southern Correctional Institution — Ricky Eddins

Tabor Correctional Institution — Tyrone Sammons

Western Region

Alexander Correctional Institution — Thomas Dula (statewide Correctional Officer of the Year)

Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution — Ralph “Tom” Nations

Caldwell Correctional Center — Brad Anderson

Catawba Correctional Center — Vicente Jeronimo

Craggy Correctional Center — Lonny Payne

Davidson Correctional Center — Kaleb King

Foothills Correctional Institution — Lacynda Blanton

Forsyth Correctional Center — Brian Cohade

Gaston Correctional Center — Alton Green Jr.

Lincoln Correctional Center — Natalie Petrea

Marion Correctional Institution — Allen Whitesides

Mountain View Correctional Institution—Thomas Harris

Piedmont Correctional Institution — Wessam Elsayed

Rutherford Correctional Center — Tramel Forney

Wilkes Correctional Center—David Callahan

Feature photo: Correctional Officer of the Year Thomas Dula/Courtesy photo.


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