Alumni Profile: Captain Stacy Heath Leads the ‘City’ of Corrections

Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

“Corrections is not what people think. Forget ‘Orange is the New Black,’ forget ‘Shawshank Redemption’ – forget the Hollywood rendition of jail and prison life. Corrections is a city within itself,” said Captain Stacy Heath who oversees the Support Operations and Reentry Division of the John E. Polk Correctional Facility at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. Correctional Facilities have everything a small city has: a library, a hospital, a dining area, recreation space, a school and even a jail inside the jail.

New Directions at Seminole State

Black and white picture of Heath holding her certificate and her daughter.
Heath and her daughter at Heath's
 academy graduation.

With over 20 years of correctional experience, Heath says “I like to tell people that corrections found me. It was not a profession I even knew about.” As a young, single mother, she was working as a loan officer for a mortgage company and sleeping on people’s couches. She came up with a plan to go into a field in need of staff. When she arrived at Seminole State College of Florida, she found a program called New Directions. The program was available for single parents. It allowed them to take different courses and explore opportunities in areas such as corrections, nursing and law enforcement.

“I didn’t have the income to go to an academy for a long period of time without getting the money to support me and my child,” she said. Heath applied and was selected. New Directions helped her manage the cost of tuition and take care of books and transportation. “The minute I went through the corrections academy I knew it was something I could grow into. I felt empowered. One door after another started opening for me. Here I am 20 years later!”

The City of Corrections

I liked the idea that people were there at their worst and that maybe we have the potential of giving them some help.

Capt. Stacy Heath.

“Correctional facilities, be it jails or prisons, are small cities,” Heath said, referring to the myriad departments it takes to run correctional facilities that include everything from medical, mail, laundry and libraries to educational programs and more.
She manages all the departments that support security, including programs for inmates to help them better assimilate to the world once they are released. Accepting Change Through Treatment (ACTT) and Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) are two such examples. These programs help inmates recognize their addictions and help them overcome them to try to break their incarceration cycle.

“I liked the idea that people were there at their worst and that maybe we have the potential of giving them some help,” Heath said. “We don’t have a batman belt. We have our communications skills when dealing with inmates. So, understanding emotional intelligence is key to our success as corrections professionals.”

A Leader from the Start

Heath stands with her law enforcement academy sponsor at her graduation
Heath stands with her law enforcement
academy sponsor, Eddie Slovan,
 at her graduation

That intelligence paired with her leadership skills paved the way for Heath’s rise in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. “You are a leader the very first day you start at the jail. You oversee inmates who live in your housing unit. It is an awesome responsibility,” she explained. She started as a corrections deputy before being promoted to sergeant then lieutenant. In February 2021, she was promoted to captain, a position selected by the sheriff himself.

As she worked hard, she sought opportunities to learn about the different areas within corrections. To those looking to get involved in corrections, she urges them to get started. “The younger you start in a field like this, the better you will be. You can now start at 18 years old. And the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office will pay for your academy and provide tuition reimbursement once hired.” To improve and progress, she recommends educating yourself on areas in which you are interested, finding mentors and attending professional conferences.

“The great thing about corrections is that you can get in within a couple of months and after that you can have a career.” Heath said. “I’ve worked in this field for a very long time and there are no greater heroes than the people in corrections.”


Learn more about our Corrections Academy!

About the Center for Public Safety

Seminole State's Center for Public Safety is a statewide educational resource for all aspects of criminal justice, fire science and EMS. In addition to preparing future first responders, the Center for Public Safety provides advanced, specialized and in-service training for current law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. The College also offers students an Associate in Science degree in all three disciplines. Visit for more information.