Drew Stanley Named North Carolina Warden of the Year


For his extraordinary and proactive efforts to battle the pandemic, the warden at Nash Correctional Institution, Drew Stanley, has been named the warden of the year in North Carolina.

“Drew Stanley has done amazing work over the past year and has truly earned this award,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “He has been visionary, precautionary and effective in keeping the health and safety of his staff and the men in his custody as his top priority.”

Warden Stanley is one of the 55 men and women who are in charge of the state’s prison facilities, which house more than 28,000 offenders with a staff of around 13,500. The wardens are in charge of all the many complex operations at their prisons.

Warden Stanley stood out among his peers this year for his extraordinary efforts to prepare for, and battle, COVID-19.

A year ago, before any offenders in the prison system tested positive for the virus, Stanley reviewed all programs at the prison and instituted COVID-19 preparations. He streamlined the way offenders were housed and grouped them to protect their health and to better ensure continuity of operations at two Correction Enterprises operations at the prison in the event of an outbreak.

He worked to ensure the virus would not impact the Field Ministry Program at the prison, in which 70 offenders work toward a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in pastoral ministry with training in counseling. Stanley found a way to live-stream classes while ensuring pandemic safety precautions in the classes.

He instituted strict cleaning schedules in the offender housing units, created staff sign-in/sign-out logs for the housing units, and enacted additional rules to help prevent the virus from getting in or to contain it from spreading if it did get in to the male medium custody prison.

While most other prisons combatted viral outbreaks in their offender populations throughout 2020, some repeatedly, the first outbreak at Nash Correctional wasn’t until Jan. 9, 2021 – 10 months after the first prison outbreak.

“Warden Stanley is highly regarded by his peers and serves as a wealth of knowledge for newly promoted wardens,” said Ishee. “He has proven to be a phenomenal warden and is a true asset to Prisons.”

The 2020 Warden of the Year award was announced today at a meeting of wardens from across the state.

Stanley began his career as a correctional officer at the former Polk Youth Institution in 1987. He has served in many roles during his career, including admissions technician, behavioral specialist, case analyst and diagnostic center director.

In 2005, he was promoted to Central Region program manager, serving in multiple capacities, and was promoted again in 2007 to assistant superintendent of programs at Nash Correctional. He inaugurated the facility’s therapeutic art program that has since grown into one of the largest in the state, with more than seven art classes for the offender population.

He was promoted again in 2013 to facility administrator of Johnston Correctional Institution. He spent 2018 as the facility administrator of Warren Correctional Institution before returning to Nash Correctional in 2019 as the warden.

On his return to Nash, he worked to fill 45 vacant staff positions, dropping the number of vacancies to 28 in six months and then to six vacancies within the year. The prison continues to maintain a low staff vacancy rate.

Stanley was a member of the Prisons Emergency Response Team for ten years and has been a member since 1989 of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, for which he currently serves as chairperson.

Stanley is a graduate of North Carolina State University.

“I’m very honored to be a part of an elite group of individuals in the prison system,” Stanley said. “Fortunately, I still love what I do.”

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