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Nash Correctional warden earns state award

Posted on May 7, 2021

Local newsTop news | 252-265-8117



NASHVILLE — For proactive efforts in battling the novel coronavirus pandemic, Drew Stanley at Nash Correctional Institution has been named the state’s warden of the year.

“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.”

Stanley has done amazing work over the past year and has earned the award, said N.C. Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee.

“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,” Ishee said.

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 operations at their prisons, according to information provided by John Bull, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

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

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, Bull said.

“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,” Bull said. “Stanley found a way to livestream classes while ensuring pandemic safety precautions in the classes.”

Stanley instituted strict cleaning schedules in inmate housing units, created staff sign-in and 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 into the male medium-custody prison, Bull said.

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, which was 10 months after the first prison COVID-19 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.”

Stanley began his career as a correctional officer at the former Polk Youth Institution in 1987. He’s 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’s since grown into one of the largest in the state, with more than seven art classes for inmates.

Stanley again received promotion 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 its 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, Bull said.

Stanley was a member of the Prisons Emergency Response Team for 10 years. Since 1989, he’s been a member of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, for which he currently serves as chairman.

Stanley is a graduate of N.C. State University.

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