Pursuing a desire for excellence.
Pierce believes that education is the key to success. She attended college at the University of Colorado in Denver, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in December 1995. She later graduated from Ashworth College in Norcross, Ga., in 2008 with an Associate of Science degree in criminal justice. She then graduated with a Master of Science degree in administration of justice and security from the University of Phoenix in Arizona. Pierce plans to further her education by receiving her doctorate degree in business administration.
Pierce decided to get into corrections because of her love for law. She began her career in the juvenile system at the Jetson Center for Youth in Baton Rouge, La. She enjoyed working with youths and took the time to talk with them and give them some needed direction in their lives. She believed that most youths were acting out because they needed someone to listen to them. Pierce also spent, countless hours training new cadets.
In 2000, Pierce transferred to the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Department in Plaquemine, La., where she worked as a jailer and was later promoted to supervisor. In 2006, Pierce transferred to the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW) in St. Gabriel, La. She was amazed to discover how different the systems were moving from a juvenile system to a parish system and then to an adult correctional system. "I was very careful in the methods by which I would perform my duties. Occasionally I would get confused with what to do about a situation, and that is when I would rely on my policy and procedures manual. I would read the policy and procedures manual as if it were the Bible. Policy, procedures, rules and regulations became my best friend," Pierce said.
Pierce found LCIW to be an interesting place to work. From the first, day on the job, she knew that was where she wanted to be. When the training officer mentioned how employees come and go, she recalls telling him that "He did not have to worry about me because I was there to stay."
Pierce conducted the "Big Sisters" meeting, which was an orientation to the institution for new inmates. Most of the women would arrive at the institution not knowing what to expect, and were very afraid because of something they may have heard. Pierce would alleviate their fears by telling them, "No matter what they have done or no matter what the reason for their stay, they are still human. All they need to do is do their time and get back out into society." She believes that everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is how we correct our mistakes. The women at LCIW would often tell Pierce how helpful she was to them by explaining the policy and procedures of the institution and they appreciated that she always treated them with respect.
"Pierce shows great empathy and tries to help offenders make better lives for themselves while still making sure that the public is protected," said Major Melanie Zedlitz from the LCIW Department of Public Safety. "She actively listens to the needs of the inmates and is always available to answer questions, or get the information required to answer their questions. She also works well with supervisors and follows orders. Pierce is truly a team player."
When she first decided to pursue certification, Pierce came to one of the assistant wardens to ask about the steps she needed to take to become a certified corrections officer (CCO). She then took the necessary steps and pursued the certification on her own time and with her own money. Not content with just passing the CCO exam, she then continued studying until she was ready to take and pass the CCS exam. "Not many officers could ever exhibit a clearer picture of Pierce's thirst for knowledge and a desire to be the best of the best in corrections," said Zedlitz. "She has a strong personal commitment to her job and to everything she sets her mind to do."
Having accomplished her goal of becoming dual certified, Pierce stated that, "Certification is the best tool to becoming a good corrections officer. Certification shows that you are not just there to earn a paycheck, you are there to do the best job that you can do and be the best officer that you can be."
Peg O'Brien, MA, CCM, is the manager of ACA's Correctional Certification Program.
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|Title Annotation:||Certification Spotlight; corrections supervisor Lorella Faye Pierce|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2012|
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