CoreCivic Inc.

02/23/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/23/2024 07:49

Wheeler Correctional Facility is Rewriting the Narrative of Incarceration

Wheeler Correctional Facility is rewriting the narrative of incarceration. Located in Alamo, Georgia, this medium-security facility is leading the way in helping justice-involved individuals under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Corrections build a productive future through ample educational opportunities.

Shawn Gillis, who serves as Wheeler's warden, explains, "The team at Wheeler Correctional Center takes pride in the high-quality programming and opportunities we offer the men here. Our residents have run into some roadblocks in their lives, and they must serve their time. However, we believe they can use that time as an opportunity to learn valuable skills and grow in ways that will help them become productive citizens once released."

Wheeler offers a wide variety of helpful programming for residents, including cognitive-based and motivational reentry programs like Moral Reconation Therapy, Go Further, Threshold, Victim Impact, Thinking for a Change and Motivation for Change, as well as academic opportunities like adult basic education, GED and HiSET classes, technical training and even college courses.

In fact, Wheeler has been leading the way in the number of GEDs, industry-recognized vocational certificates and college degrees awarded each year at CoreCivic. In 2023, residents at Wheeler earned 30 GED/HiSET certificates, 334 industry-recognized certificates, and 13 college degrees through Ashland University.

"Education, especially programs that result in a degree or vocational certificate, are critical for returning citizens to help them reenter society once they leave prison," said Gillis. "Gaining these skills can mean the difference between living productively and returning to criminal behavior patterns."

Gillis shared that Wheeler's successful rehabilitation approach is backed by the facility's devoted staff.

"We could not be who we are without our great staff. What we do involves a lot of teamwork; from the top to the bottom, we are all working toward the same goal every day," he said.

Heather Kersey, assistant warden at Wheeler, explains how supporting the staff and the local community are essential parts of the culture at Wheeler.

"We're located in South Georgia, so we like to show our appreciation with food. We offer staff celebrations with meals and different holiday gatherings," said Kersey. "We also meet quarterly with the Community Advisory Committee in Alamo, and often, our staff will cook for those meetings, too."

The Community Advisory Committee is an opportunity for Wheeler to stay abreast on what is happening in the community and lend a helping hand where needed. From a talent acquisition perspective, it's also important to show the community that CoreCivic provides citizens with steady employment and benefits along with the ability to grow as an employee and give back to their communities by helping returning citizens rehabilitate.

Starting a new career in corrections is something Gillis knows a lot about, too. He began his career with CoreCivic as a correctional officer at Wheeler in 1999. Through the years, he has worked throughout the United States in varying correctional leadership roles at CoreCivic, until the opportunity to return home presented itself. Now, he proudly serves as the warden where his CoreCivic career began.

"I hope my presence here provides hope to others-both staff and those in our care-so they can achieve their goals if they work hard and stay dedicated," said Gillis. "Wheeler Correctional Facility provides opportunities to all to better their lives."