James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Theodis Beck, Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

JUNE 2, 1999

Raleigh - Central Prison Warden James B. French will now head all 84 state prisons in his new position as director of the Division of Prisons. Correction Secretary Theodis Beck named French to the job June 2.

"As warden of Central Prison, Mr. French has worked in the most difficult and complex position in North Carolina and has done an outstanding job," Beck said. "He comes well equipped to manage the state prison system and continue to implement Gov. Jim Hunt's plan to put every able-bodied inmate to work."

French, a native of Sanford, graduated from W.B. Wicker High School in 1967. He joined the U.S. Army for four years and spent one of those years in Vietnam. Upon his discharge, French became a correctional officer at Central Prison where he has worked for the past 27 years. He was promoted first to sergeant in 1974, then to lieutenant in 1980, to captain in 1983, and deputy warden in 1990. Four years later he became warden of the state's maximum-custody prison. French has seen the demolition of the old Central Prison, the construction of the existing prison and since being warden, oversaw five executions.

In 1995, French was named Correctional Supervisor of the Year by the International Association of Correctional Officers which recognized his leadership, honesty and professionalism.

He and his wife, Gloria, have three children.

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