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From Star Athlete to Dedicated Public Servant: The Inspiring Journey of Aubray Bailey

Aubray Bailey, Associate Warden at Ridgeland Correctional

As the associate warden at Ridgeland Correctional, a medium-security prison in South Carolina, Bailey has dedicated his life to helping the incarcerated turn their lives around.


This year, he celebrates an impressive 40 years as a criminal justice professional, and his journey is nothing short of remarkable.


From star athlete to dedicated public servant, Bailey's story is one of perseverance and determination. In 10th grade, he began excelling in both sports and education, eventually earning a full scholarship to play running back at Alcorn State University. One of his proudest moments was telling his mom that he had earned a full ride to college.


After college, Bailey worked in the Department of Youth Services, then the Department of Mental Health for nine years, and then the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 21 years before retiring. But retirement didn't last long. Bailey knew he had more to give and wanted to use his energy and experience to make a difference in the world.


One of his greatest rewards is seeing people get their lives back on track after incarceration. He loves to share the story of a JUMPSTART SC participant who, after being released during COVID, struggled to find a job and decided to start his own handyman service. Bailey recently saw him working hard on a job site and couldn't have been prouder.


JUMPSTART SC is a program that helps prepare inmates for reentry by providing them with life skills, education, and mentoring. Bailey regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty to help the men at Ridgeland participate in JUMPSTART SC and other programs designed to prepare them for their future after incarceration. Even when prison staff shortages make it challenging to get participants to class, Bailey doesn't let that stand in the way. He'll head to the dorms to assist his colleagues with security and ensure the men have the opportunity to participate in class, even though it's not in his job description.


When asked why he goes above and beyond, Bailey responds,

"95% of the incarcerated are going to be released, so I see it as my personal mission to ensure that we work toward safety for society and redemption for individuals."

Bailey leads by example, treating everyone with respect, compassion, and professionalism. He’s a role model for the men by being humble, honest, and hardworking.


Bailey is part of a larger movement of criminal justice professionals working hard to keep our communities safe while providing transformational opportunities to incarcerated individuals who want to turn their lives around.

One of the most successful and innovative programs in this movement is JUMPSTART SC Prison Ministry, which operates in 19 prisons across South Carolina. JUMPSTART SC has a proven track record of reducing recidivism, increasing employment, and helping men and women build a brighter future.


JUMPSTART SC offers a comprehensive, integrated approach to reentry, consisting of two phases: in-prison programming, and a residential reentry program. In the in-prison program, men and women learn how to address the issues that led to their incarceration, discover God's purpose for their lives, and prepare for re-entry. Volunteers from communicates across the state attend classes weekly to offer encouragement and guidance. Upon release, those who have completed JUMPSTART’s inside program are eligible for a holistic residential program that includes housing, transportation, employment, mentoring, and life skills classes.


We asked Bailey what he would say to everyone who was incarcerated if he only had a minute to share. He was quick with his answer, “A setback is a setup for a great comeback if you will maximize your time and make the most of the opportunities in front of you.”


After this we asked, what would you say to someone considering a career in the criminal justice field, he responded,

“This is a career that keeps on giving. Over the past forty years, I’ve earned a good living. But more important than that, I’ve got to help people move past their mistakes and this is not only a win for them and their family, but for all of society.


Aubray Bailey is an inspiration to many, both inside and outside the prison walls. He's a testament to the power of redemption and the belief that everyone is greater than the sum of their mistakes. He's a leader who leads with both his head and his heart, and he's a criminal justice professional with an unwavering passion for redemption.


Learn More About JUMSPTART SC in this two-minute video:

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