Correctional officer dedicates life to helping inmates succeed

Correctional officer dedicates life to helping inmates succeed
Correctional officer dedicates life to helping inmates succeed(WSAZ)
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The job of a correctional officer can be challenging and full of risk, but it can also be rewarding as they help inmates return to society.

“I want everyone to be successful. I just want the world to be easier,” said corrections officer Casey Wagoner at Western Regional Jail.

Being in law enforcement has always been Wagoner’s dream, due to a rough childhood with parents struggling with addiction.

“I knew if my dad was in jail he was alive, and if he was on the street he’s going to be dead,” Wagoner said.

Her plans of being a West Virginia State Police trooper were derailed when she had a child, and she ended up at Western Regional Jail as a correctional officer.

“There’s kids out there that want to make sure their parents are taken care of so I came here,” she said.

When she first started, she still planned to leave to become a trooper, but after four years, that has changed.

“I don’t want to leave at all. I just love it,” Wagoner said.

She says the job is so much more than care, custody and control of the inmates.

“I can be me and go through the crazy things and be successful,” she said. “They’re here now, but they can too. That’s the real reason.”

Through creating relationships with inmates, she helps them see their self-worth and starts building them back up.

“If they’re in here for something stupid, they’re not caring for themselves, so they need a self check. Why did you do that? You have to care about yourself,” she said. “I just want to make them believe in themselves, so they’re not coming back and back and back. And once you come and then you come again, not only are you coming back to jail, but you’ve stopped caring about yourself.”

She says to be a good corrections officer you need to be honest and caring.

“They need the structure or they wouldn’t be here. I feel like structure is what they need, positive structure. How are you going to rehabilitate somebody whenever you don’t have that?” Wagoner said.

She said she realizes now, in this position she can help more than being a state trooper.

“You can really get to them more than you can out there,” Wagoner said.

She says she knows she is meant to be in the jail, and the success stories fill her heart.

“Seeing people be like, ‘Thank you I needed that’ when you’re done talking to them or that they have a different outlook. They really want to try,” Wagoner said.

She said the job means more than closing cell doors behind inmates, but rather opening doors to opportunity.

There is a great need for correctional officers across West Virginia. If you want to apply, you can go to www.dcr.wv.gov

To hear more from Wagoner, you can listen to her full interview below: