CONNEAUT - Named by Corrections Corporation of America as the new warden of Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI), Michigan native Barry Goodrich says he is up to the challenge of taking over as warden of the 1,500-inmate facility on Jan. 1. "For me, corrections is a people business. I see getting to know employees, volunteers and community leaders as a vital part of my duty as a warden, and it's one that I truly enjoy,” he said.
A four-year warden of CCA’s Coffee Correctional Institution in Nicholls, Ga., Goodrich also feels up to the challenge of addressing city administrators’ concerns regarding the state’s sale of LaECI to CCA at a cost of $72.7 million. The transfer is effective Jan. 1.
During a telephone conversation Tuesday, Goodrich said he looked forward to attending the Nov. 16 meeting at Kent State University Ashtabula of state, county and city officials to discuss prison sale concerns -- especially law enforcement.
“The issues you’re talking about as a city are what we look forward to addressing and making sound decisions.” he said. “Details about the number of inmates or who will handle felonies are all workable issues.”
Goodrich added that about 95 percent of felony cases are handled in-house.
“But I’m aware of concerns and interested in seeing what they are,” he said. “ I will add that I’ve been with CCA for 20 years, done start-ups and expansions, and all of my corrections work has been done at large ‘dynamic’ or ‘difficult’ facilities, often with challenging contracts, so that is what will assist me with the transition between [prison management] Management Training Corporation going to CCA.”
Goodrich said it was too soon to say how many employees will be at the prison as of Jan. 1, but
did say he is in no hurry to expand the number of beds from 1,500 -- a number that has remained stable since LaECI opened in 2000 -- to 1.798, the number listed at LaECI on CCA’s web site.
“We know that increasing beds is part of what Ohio is asking us to do, but first we want to get in, assess the climate and talk with staff before that happens,” he said.
Goodrich says there is a strategy to successfully expand prison population. He has overseen such two expansions, including increasing from 1,700 beds to over 2,600 beds the Coffee Correctional Institution where he has been warden since 2008 after serving as assistant warden from 2004 to 2008.
“Right now, our average is 2,628 beds. It’s the largest prison in Georgia,” he said.
No stranger to northeast Ohio, Goodrich said he jumped at the chance to come “back home” to the Midwest, after leaving ten years ago for Georgia. From 1997 to 2001, he worked as Chief of Security at the federal Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown under CCA management.
“I was interested in going back home,” Goodrich said. “So when Ohio came up -- and the possibility of five prisons -- I was interested, and the decision came about that I was selected.”
Having lived in five states since joining CCA in 1992, Goodrich says he and his wife -- who runs a creative writing business from her home -- are used to moving around.
“That carried over from the military,” he said.
The couple’s two children, ages 25 and 22, live in Washington, D.C., and Georgia, respectively.
A U.S. Army veteran with 20 years’ experience in corrections and law enforcement, Goodrich was born in LaPeer, Mich., about 20 miles east of Flint. After earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Central Michigan University, he joined the military. There he worked in corrections.
“I enjoyed it, so a career in corrections came naturally,” he said.
What Goodrich enjoyed even more, however, was coaching, something he picked up during his college years.
“I coached in all the sports...basketball, football and baseball, but I’d have concentrated on basketball if I had pursued it. I coached mainly at the junior high level. I might have gone on to the high school level, but I entered the military,” he said.
Goodrich worked his way up the ranks at CCA since starting as a correctional officer in 1992. He has served as assistant shift supervisor, chief of security, assistant warden, and facility executive. He said on CCA’s web site that he hopes to develop a good relationship with the local community and government to make LaECI one of the best correctional facilities in Ohio. He believes that the positives of the prison sale far outweigh the city’s concerns over the sale, something he has already discussed in person with fellow Michigan native Tim Eggleston, Conneaut’s city manager.
“"There’s a good foundation, a great history and a wonderful community at Lake Erie," said Goodrich. "We want to build on that, incorporate our ‘CCA Way’ into the facility and, working together, continue moving forward every day in making it an outstanding place to work."
Goodrich also maintains a passion for his team to improve their professional experience.
"My aim has always been to help people learn and grow to become future leaders within our company and community," said Goodrich. "I am excited about my opportunity to work in Ohio with CCA, and thrilled to get the chance to be a part of the outstanding team at Lake Erie Correctional Institution."