Author: Rebecca Hinkle
The career of a correctional officer is not an easy one. It is a position that has many challenges and requires a sharp focus on safety, professionalism, and integrity in order to keep themselves and those in state-custody safe. It is a role where if done well, they can inspire and help an offender to succeed once released. Right now, finding new correctional officers has been a challenge in North Carolina and across the nation, but one family that has been with the state for a combined total of 70 years has certainly risen to that challenge. Three generations of the Furr family have worked as correctional officers for the state of North Carolina within the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The three-generation legacy of grandfather, father, and son, along with a wife and mother, all started with the grandfather of the family, Freddy Furr, who began as a correctional officer in 1965. When asked why he became a correctional officer, Freddy said that he wanted to get into law enforcement and needed work, and a friend helped him get his position as a correctional officer at Caswell Correctional Center.
“We had to be trained for all positions. Back then, we worked the yard, cell block, kitchen, towers, everything. You had to be trained for about six or seven jobs,” Freddy said when describing his past career. Freddy worked for more than 30 years as a correctional officer before retiring in 2009.
“He’s the best role model I got,” Sager said when asked why he wanted to become a correctional officer, “I just look up to him. He’s always been a good father, a good provider, and I’m just following in his footsteps.”
Growing up, Sager thought his father had a great job. Sager started his career in February of 1992 at Caswell Correctional, the same place as his father. It was while working at Caswell that he met his wife, Angelique, who also started as a correctional officer at Caswell. They later married in 1998. He moved to Dan River Prison Work Farm in 2014 as a Correctional Training Specialist until he retired in April of this year. His wife has taken over his position and continues to work alongside their son, Hunter Furr.
“It’s definitely not the normal nine to five. Right now, with staff shortages, there is a lot of stress from overtime, being gone from the family a lot, and you’re working in a negative environment around some of these offenders, so you have to have a positive attitude at all times,” said Sager as he described what he would say to those thinking of a career as a correctional officer, “It’s a good experience. In this line of work, it’s a family and a brotherhood that no other job can give you.”
It was something Hunter saw as he watched both of his parents’ work growing up and started learning more details about the profession from the young age of 12. He recalls seeing both of his parents coming home being tired and stressed, and while at that young age, it made him lean towards other career options. As he grew older, he began to understand and accept the role of a correctional officer more.
“It takes somebody different to work in here. You have to have a different mindset,” Hunter said when asked about his experience so far as a correctional officer.
Mike Roach, a former Marine who came to work for DPS in 1990 and started his career at Blanch Correctional Institution, first met the Furr family through Sager in 2015 and worked with Hunter when he was hired at Dan River.
“It is unfathomable and amazing. You don’t see it much,” remarked Roach as he discussed the unique legacy of the grandfather, father, and son of the Furr family all working as correctional officers.
If the youngest of the Furr family were to stay with the DPS for his career, the Furr family legacy would have 100 years of service for North Carolina. It is a legacy of hard work and honesty with a crucial role in the state and DPS. The state of North Carolina thanks this family for their work and will always be grateful for their service, and for the years of service to come.