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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Press Release
May 3, 2011
For More Information
Contact: Gretl Plessinger
Communications Director
(850) 488-0420

Correctional Employees' Week

This first week in May is national Correctional Employees’ Week. 

“Florida’s correctional employees in prisons and in our communities work bravely and tirelessly in hazardous conditions for the benefit of the citizens of Florida,” says Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss. “I cannot fully express how proud I am of the Department’s approximately 30,000 employees who do so much for their communities and for our great State. For these reasons I urge all Floridians to extend thanks and gratitude to all correctional employees throughout the state.“

Due to the combined efforts of corrections employees, the Department has continued to achieve successes in public safety and inmate reentry during this challenging economic time. Crime rates are dropping and admissions into prison have dramatically decreased.

To commemorate our week of statewide recognition, we hope to honor all DC employees, from line staff to leadership, by spotlighting a few individuals who exemplify who we are and what we do as a Department. 

This week we will be showcasing individuals who represent the many hundreds of DC employees who work with sustained dedication to maintain public safety in our communities.

The employees from DC’s Northern Region being honored today are: Sergeant Richard Harden of Franklin CI, Sergeant Latricia Hunter of Hamilton CI, Sergeant Tomeka Laster of Wakulla CI and Andrew Wood of Taylor CI .

Sergeant Richard Harden

Sergeant Richard Harden
Sergeant Richard Harden

Sgt. Richard Harden is the kind of man who stays involved and busy, at work and in his community.  

He has been with the Dept. of Corrections for 14 years, first at Wakulla Correctional Institution when it opened in 1997 and then transferring to Franklin Correctional Institution when it opened in 2005.

He attained the rank of sergeant seven  years ago and for the past five years has been the prison’s Environmental Health and Safety sergeant. But that’s not all he does: he conducts annual in-service training of CPR, Defensive Tactics, and is also a Firearms Range Master. During emergency incidents, Sgt. Harden also supervises the Emergency Operations Center.

He is also heavily involved in the community of Sopchoppy. For six years he has been an elected council member of the Sopchoppy City Council, currently serving as vice-mayor. In addition he is: vice-chairman of the Wakulla County Tourist Development Council, vice-president of the Wakulla County Historical Society, sits is on the Wakulla County Extension Office advisory committee, and is also an active member of the Sopchoppy Lions Club.

Sergeant Latricia Hunter

Sergeant Latricia Hunter
Sergeant Latricia Hunter

Every human service organization worth its salt needs a moral compass and in the case of Hamilton Correctional Institution, that compass may very well be Sergeant Latrica Hunter, a woman with a strong work ethic, a generous heart and positive disposition.

Sgt. Hunter is praised by her supervisor as a person who can be counted on to step up to help others in need through organizing fund raisers and events, so it’s only natural that she is a member of the newly created Bereavement Team at Hamilton. 

Her peers describe her as “selfless” because she puts her fellow employees and their needs before her own.  She is also called a motivator who makes people want to get involved in helping others because of her “can do” and positive attitude. 

She began her career with the Department of Corrections in 1990 and was promoted to Sergeant in 1995 and is currently the administrative sergeant at Hamilton Correctional Institution Work Camp near Jasper.

Sergeant Tomeka Laster

Sergeant Tomeka Laster
Sergeant Tomeka Laster

Wakulla Correctional Institution Sergeant Tomeka Laster has taken to the Corrections profession the way a duck takes to water.

She began her career with the Department of Corrections in 2004 and four years later was promoted to the rank of sergeant. She has the very responsible job of supervising the control room at Wakulla CI’s main unit.

Besides that position, she is very active in the Strategic Threat Group (STG) program at Wakulla, assisting in gathering intelligence on current gang members and using that intelligence to monitor their activities. 

Andrew Wood

Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood

Finally we honor Taylor Correctional Institution Officer Andrew Wood who passed away last month.  He was a people person who inmates saw as a mentor, a man who by being a positive role model and counselor to inmates, practiced positive re-entry initiatives long before the word Re-entry came along.

Before coming to Taylor CI he owned his own business, worked at the local paper mill and also served Taylor County and his community by being a County Commissioner for 8 years.  He worked for the Florida Department of Corrections at Taylor Correctional Institution for over 13 years.

His assigned post was Internal Security at Taylor CI Annex and those who knew him said you could always be sure he was on the compound rain or shine, freezing or sweltering, assisting staff and running the inmate canteen and barbershop.
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