Blog: DPS Dispatch

Prisons’ first field ministers graduate from college, prepare to positively influence fellow offenders. NASHVILLE — Black-robed, masked and wearing traditional mortarboards, 24 offenders at Nash Correctional Institution collected a bachelor’s degree on Wednesday. They are the first class of graduates from the Field Ministry Program, trained to support and counsel fellow offenders.

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The North Carolina Correctional Association gathered for its 42nd year of intensive training on handling gangs in prison, building leadership skills, supporting colleagues and more. The Honor Guard opened the three-day training conference in Greensboro, and a brief memorial moment was held for staff who passed away over the preceding year. Gov. Roy Cooper sent a video message of thanks for the essential work done by Prisons’ staff in jobs that are challenging and demanding.

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The graduates wore traditional black gowns and tasseled mortarboards. The university president gave his congratulations. The student body representative spoke of resilience. One-by-one, the students came forward to be presented with their Associate of Science degrees and the applause of their professors and visitors. The branch campus was ringed in barbed wire and guard towers. This was the first-of-its-kind commencement ceremony in a North Carolina prison – medium custody offenders graduating in person with two-year degrees from Campbell University at no cost to taxpayers.

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With new COVID-19 cases on the decline, prisons providing vaccinations to all incarcerated individuals who want the vaccine; and  vaccines now widely available in communities across the state; the N.C. Department of Public Safety is wrapping up a project that provided quarantine space to recently released offenders who may have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to release. This group would have otherwise been homeless or didn’t have a stable home to go to following completion of their sentences.

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Celebrates Staff for a Year of Dedication in a Pandemic North Carolina Prisons leadership today honored the men and women who fell in the line of duty, mourned those who succumbed to COVID-19 and celebrated the staff who have worked with such dedication during the past year of pandemic. “It is a time to honor our men and women we’ve lost,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons, during a ceremony today for Correctional Officers and Correctional Employee Appreciation Week.

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Bertie Correctional Institution Sgt. Robert Russell is a trailblazer in his northeastern North Carolina county. Not only was he a member of the first Public Safety Cadet Program class back in 2017 at Bertie High School, he also was the first member of the program to be hired by the state prison in 2018. 

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At its September National Memorial Ceremony and Training Institute Recognition Luncheon in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation honored Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Critical Incident Administrator Jeffery Billups for his heroic actions last summer while driving home from work. Billups (pictured in center) received the CPOF Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award from the CPOF Board of Directors Chairman Glenn Mueller and National Director Ron Barnes.

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As the new Commissioner of Prisons, I’ve traveled the state, visited all of our prisons and listened to the concerns of the staff. I’ve reached some conclusions. Great things are being done by the men and women who manage our offender populations. Prisons staff deserve an organizational structure that works better to help them in their mission. To that end, I’ve restructured the Division of Prisons. This new structure will help to position us for success. It will allow us to thoughtfully, with focus, tackle the challenging issues at hand.

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She remains unnamed, saying the entire staff should be considered Employee of the Year Central Prison has named its annual Employee of the Year.  With that honor comes respect, some glory, $100 in cash and a designated parking space for a year. She remains unnamed, asking not to be identified to the staff or the public. She said everyone at Central Prison deserves to be considered the Employee of the Year, and someone else deserving should get the designated parking spot perk.

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