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North Carolina
Department of Correction
Michael F. Easley, Governor                Theodis Beck, Secretary

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2001
Contact: Keith Acree
             (919) 716-3700

Officer Supervises State’s Toughest Offenders

David TilleryTILLERY – Two hours north of Raleigh, the 7,000 acres of Caledonia Correctional Institution sprawl in the Halifax County countryside. The institution is home to the Department of Correction’s largest and oldest work farm; it’s also one of two locations where the prison system’s most violent and assaultive male inmates are housed.

Correctional Officer David Tillery, a 16-year veteran of the Department of Correction, strides the noisy corridors of the Unit 1 maximum control housing area with confidence. He knows the inmates and they know him.

But don’t mistake a thorough knowledge of the job, the staff and the inmates for casualness. Tillery knows the dangers of working a maximum control unit. "It can be a stressful situation; it’s mostly a mental challenge," said Tillery who works the night shift, monitoring inmate behavior from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. "The inmates will play a lot of mind games, they’ll test you. But really most of them just want somebody to listen to them."

The inmates assigned to maximum control are there primarily because they’ve assaulted staff or other inmates. They are separated from the rest of the inmates and because of their risk to others, they are confined to their cells except for when they shower, when they recreate alone in caged fences or are treated by medical or mental health staff. The inmates are assigned to maximum control for six months, after which time they can be considered for other housing assignments.

Tillery said that working maximum control isn’t for everyone, but that it’s a good fit for him. "You have to trust the people you work with, especially in this environment. In MCON you know what to expect and you do the job as you’ve been trained, " he said.

As he leaves the housing area and walks outside, surrounded by the razor fence encircling the facility Tillery notes, "The key to longevity is to leave the job at the institution and not take it home with you." When Tillery’s off-duty he likes to relax with his family, play basketball and fish.

Tillery is one of more than 11,000 certified correctional staff who protect public safety by supervising offenders at one of the state’s 78 prisons. Gov. Mike Easley has proclaimed May 20-26 as Correctional Officers Week in North Carolina.


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