MANSFIELD -- After moving through the ranks at correctional facilities, Harold May has taken over the reins as warden of the Richland Correctional Institution.
He follows in the footsteps of his mentor, Dave Marquis, the RiCI warden for the past two-and-a-half years.
May, whose first day as warden was April 1, said he worked with Marquis throughout his career and said that relationship will serve him well in his first post as a warden.
"He's been a good mentor for me all along, so I've known his style," May said. "Everyone has their own style, but he was (in the) military, like myself. He was very policy driven, black and white. I knew coming in here, following Dave, I was coming into a place that was in good hands.
"Richland (Correctional) has a really good staff, and we follow behind Dave. It was great to come into something that was already running nice," May said of the prison that opened in 1998.
May, who grew up in Bucyrus, began his corrections career in 1999. He said after spending five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he got out of the military but missed the policy-driven work.
"If you're not sure how to do something, read the policy. It's right there in black-and-white," he said. "That got me back into corrections -- wearing a uniform. I liked that."
May worked his way through the ranks, starting as a corrections officer, then sergeant, then major, and then deputy warden at nearby Mansfield Correctional Institution for the past five years.
Now, May is in charge of RiCI, a prison at 1001 S. Olivesburg Road that covers 78 acres with more than 400 staff members and an inmate population of around 2,600.
He said he doesn't expect much in the prison to change, mentioning a number of educational and vocational programs that can help inmates find jobs when they get out of prison.
"Whatever reason they are here -- whether they wrote a bad check or they are here for drug conveyance -- no matter what. If they are here, we want to help them," May said, adding convicted felons may often have trouble finding jobs once released.
May said the prison, with a mission statement of "Reduce Recidivism Among Those We Touch," has programs to help inmates earn college degrees from Ashland University, general education diploma and CDL licenses to drive trucks professionally.
"My goal here is not punishment. When it comes to corrections, I tell people, their punishment is being here," the warden said. "We're not here to punish them. We're here to supervise them and to make them better citizens."