90 new correctional officers graduate in Selma

90 new correctional officers graduate in Selma
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

SELMA, AL (WSFA) - New correctional officers are on the way to state prisons across Alabama. A class of 91 graduated Thursday in Selma.

With 91 graduates this is not the largest class ever but the largest this year for the Alabama Corrections Academy.

The newly minted officers took the oath at the end of the 45-minute ceremony and went their separate ways. They'll report to their respective prisons next week.

Chance Webster, 25, is not only looking forward to the challenge but relishes taking on a dangerous job.

Webster will report to Kilby Prison next week.

"Corrections is something everybody can't do and I want to do something not everybody can do," Webster said.

Connie Smoot knows all about that. Smoot is a former state prison nurse and will quickly tell you this is a not a career for the weak and timid.

"Just know who you are as a person and not let anybody manipulate you," said Smoot, who had two nephews graduate Thursday.

The Department of Corrections says it lost 268 officers from October 2013 to July 2014 due to the nature of the job, but the agency says it's working to retain talent for all positions.

From this class, five females will go to Tutwiler Prison ,which is the women's prison in Elmore County. It's a prison with major issues in the last year or so.

"We've increased female officers at Tutwiler, a 12 percent increase over the last two years which is a great increase," said Dr. Wendy Williams, Deputy Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

On average each class sees about a 14 percent drop out rate in the beginning. These cadets hung in there and stayed the course, 12 weeks of academics and exercise.

"The physical part was the hardest for me," said 31-year old Markeice Harris.

It starts all over again on Monday with a new batch of recruits at the Alabama Corrections Academy.

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