New warden thinks jail can help

Published 5:27 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

Going to jail is certainly punishment.

But the Chilton County Jail’s new warden thinks there can be more to it than that.

Trae Barfield said jail staff can help turn prisoners’ lives around.

Trae Barfield is scheduled to assume full responsibility as warden at the Chilton County Jail on Oct. 1.

“A lot of people think we stick them behind closed doors, and that’s it,” said Barfield, who has been employed at the jail for about three years and was named the new warden about a week ago. “There are a lot of opportunities for us to talk one-on-one with them and to share Christ. If we don’t give them something to hope for once they get out, then they’re going to come right back.”

Barfield, a native of Columbus, Ga., started work with the sheriff’s department in 2003 and has risen from a reserve deputy to part-time officer to full-time officer and now to captain and warden, one of the positions in the department with the most responsibility.

He replaces Ken Harmon Jr., who has taken on a new position within the department, Sheriff Kevin Davis said and added that such moves are sometimes beneficial because employees stay motivated in a new line of work and also bring fresh ideas to their new position.

“I think Trae will do a great job,” Davis said. “He shows up at work every day motivated and ready to work. We look forward to his leadership there at the jail.”

The transition to Barfield taking over at the jail is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 1, Davis said.

The warden is completely responsible for the jail. There are about 35 employees at the facility in Clanton and about 240 inmates on an average day.

“My staff makes this job as a warden a blessing,” Barfield said. “I love my job. I was called by God to be a servant.”

Chilton County Courthouse security also falls to the warden, because of his frequent communication with the court system.

Barfield’s job as warden might at first glance seem a far cry from his previous line of work, as a youth minister at Chestnut Creek Baptist Church, but Barfield said he still gets to help people–and apply Christian principles.

“The only difference between them and us is they got caught,” he said of the prisoners. “We’ve all done things wrong, so I don’t judge people. I always encourage.”