PARKERSBURG - Representatives of the Parkersburg Correctional Center spoke at the North Parkersburg Kiwanis Club club meeting.
Warden Anne Thomas was accompanied by Lt. Aaron Simonton, chief of security.
Thomas began her career with the Division of Corrections at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex in 1999. She was associate warden of programs at Lakin Correctional Center in 2007 and central office director of classification prior to her appointment as warden at Parkersburg in 2012.
Lt. Aaron Simonton, chief of security at the Parkersburg Correctional Center, left, stands with Warden Anne Thomas, center, and Lois Meadows, president of the North Parkersburg Kiwanis Club.
Thomas graduated from the College of West Virginia in 1998 with a bachelor's in social and behavioral sciences.
The correctional center was opened on Aug. 5, 2012. The first 30 inmates were assigned there Aug. 29, 2012.
About 130 inmates are housed at the center, Thomas said.
The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Unit consists of 30 inmates who are usually segregated from other inmates, Thomas said. The program provides inmates with substance abuse addictions with extensive treatment and said such inmates may be eligible at a future date to transition to the Work Release Unit.
About 100 work release inmates are housed at the center. For inmates to be eligible for work release, they must be within 18 months of possible release, she said.
Upon completion of 80 community service hours and 30 days of community and related work, inmates qualify to begin seeking employment in the community. Work release community service hours have been responsible for cleaning cemeteries, washing police cars, removing graffiti, assisting the Humane Society, Salvation Army, Actors Guild and other community agencies, Thomas said.
"Unlike many other applicants seeking employment, employers of inmates from the Center's Work Release may be insured against potential loss. The local Workforce West Virginia Office plays a critical role in assisting our inmates to find employment. Local businesses such as Division of Highways, area restaurants, and others are employing our inmates," said Thomas.
Transportation for inmates going to and from employment sites is provided by Easy Rider and by the facility for those time frames outside the normal bus schedule, Thomas said.
Adult Basic Education Classroom instruction and preparation for completing the General Equivalency Diploma Examination are offered at the center for inmates lacking a high school diploma, she said.
According to Simonton, about a half dozen staff members are always on duty at the center. A third of the facility is being utilized, Thomas said. Space at the center is adequate to accommodate, if necessary, twice as many inmates as are currently being housed, Thomas said.
"The mission of the Parkersburg Correctional Center is to enhance public safety by providing a safe, secure and humane correctional system. That includes an effective community supervision program, opportunities to prepare offenders for successful re-entry, and sensitivity and responsiveness to victims of crimes," Thomas said.
"Our goal is to operate an effective community corrections program that changes inmate conduct through community supervision and treatment programs that facilitate inmate's transition into society while promoting a culture that mentors and encourages mutual respect between staff and inmates, staff professionalism, career enhancement, positive morale and pride," Thomas said.