Vernon Richards, a veteran correctional officer with nearly 30 years of experience, has been named the new warden of Gaston Correctional Center in Dallas, North Carolina. Richards most recently served as a captain at Marion Correctional Institution in McDowell County.
“Warden Richards has a wealth of knowledge in prison operations earned through almost 30 years of experience,” said Secretary of Adult Correction Todd Ishee. “He’s a leader who has devoted his life to serving our country in the Marine Corps and to the citizens of North Carolina in his role as a respected correctional professional. I am proud to welcome him to our team of wardens who work so hard with care and compassion to protect the public.”
In his new position, Richards is responsible for all operations at Gaston Correctional, a minimum-security prison for male offenders with a focus on preparing offenders for their return to communities on the completion of their sentences. The facility has a maximum capacity of 242.
The prison offers offenders programs such as character education, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Think Smart, Bible study, religious services, and community leave. Work opportunities include Department of Transportation and community work crews, municipality crews, work release, and facility assignments such as kitchen, maintenance, and janitorial.
Richards began his career at Foothills Correctional Institution in 1993 as a correctional officer. He progressed through the ranks as a sergeant in 1996, training specialist in 2005, lieutenant in 2012, and then in 2017 to captain at Marion Correctional.
He received his criminal justice instructor certification from the N.C. Criminal Justice Standards Commission and served as a platoon commander leader for the Western Region’s Prison Emergency Response Team.
He has received an Associate of Science degree in criminal justice from Western Piedmont Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in social science/criminal Justice from Gardner-Webb University, and a Master of Public Administration from Appalachian State University.