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Alabama Department of Corrections holds graduation ceremony Thursday

Charlie Long, right, with the Alabama Department of Corrections Class of 2014-02, shakes hands with deparment represenatives Wednesday during the ADOC graduation ceremony held at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center. Seventy-two trainees graduated, bringing them one step closer to becoming certified state peace officers.

Charlie Long, right, with the Alabama Department of Corrections Class of 2014-02, shakes hands with department representatives Wednesday during the ADOC graduation ceremony held at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center. Seventy-two trainees graduated, bringing them one step closer to becoming certified state peace officers.

Few seats in the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center were empty Thursday morning as family and friends filled the center to watch their loved ones graduate.

After 12 weeks of training, the Alabama Department of Corrections Training Academy Class of 2014-02 became certified correctional officers for the state prison systems during the academy’s graduation ceremony.

“It’s a long process, and having gone thought it myself, I know you feel quite accomplished when you get through it,” said Wendy Williams, the deputy commissioner for Women’s Services. “It was a big day for these graduates.”

During the program, trainees are exposed to academic classroom work, defensive tactics, firearms, physical conditioning and more.

Graduates are now on course to complete Alabama Peace Officers Standards for Training Commission to become certified peace officers.

The Class had an 80 percent graduation rate with 72 of the 91 completing the program, which is the academy’s average graduation rate, Williams said.

“It’s wonderful, but we always wish we had more,” she said.

Chief Derrick Cunningham, with the Montgomery County Sheriff Department, served as the commencement speaker for the ceremony. Cunningham gave the graduates advice about their future work as correctional officers, like avoid developing close relationships with inmates.

He concluded the speech by reminding graduates to rely on their training for guidance.

“I want you to remember everything you have been taught,” Cunningham said. “I watch you to carry what you have been taught into that facility.”

Graduate Tionee Jones said she entered the program because she understood the strong need for more security in state prisons. After 480 hours of training, Jones smiled as she explained the pride behind her accomplishment.

“It feels good,” Jones said. “I feel proud that I can serve the state of Alabama the right way.”