Brandon Temple never saw himself going into law enforcement or corrections.
Temple, who grew up in Emporia and graduated from Greensville County High School in 1998, said when he was in school he was thinking more about sports than about a career choice.
Temple played basketball, football and baseball for the Eagles prior to graduating.
“I really didn’t know what I was going to do when I graduated,” Temple said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Temple got a job with Walmart distribution in Petersburg before finding out he and his future wife were going to have a baby.
“Once I found out about that, I knew I needed a steady job with good benefits,” Temple said. “I had some friends who told me about working in corrections so I thought I would try that.”
After applying and getting hired, Temple began working at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center in 1999.
Training at the Academy, he said, prepared him well for the job, but only about three years later, he had a chance to work a little closer to home at the Southside Regional Jail when the late Capt. Audrey Mason told him about the position.
Acting Superintendent Timothy Barbour hired Temple, who found things a little different at the jail.
“In prison everybody’s convicted and you see the same people every day,” Temple said. “Here at the jail people are in and out. Someone might be brought in but 10 minutes later they’re out again.
Temple, who had been taken under his wing by then Lt. Aretha Pegram, began to rise through the ranks, first getting promoted to Sergeant and then to Lieutenant in July 2005.
Temple said Pegram has been very helpful in preparing him for his rises at the Southside Regional Jail.
“She’s a very good leader and a great trainer,” Temple said.
Being a Lieutenant means commanding a shift of officers, but lately Temple, who is the longest-serving Lieutenant currently at the facility, was given some extra responsibilities when Capt. Anthony Johnson was sent overseas as part of his commitment to the National Guard.
Johnson is expected to return in August, but until he does, Temple has been handling some of the jobs the Captain would normally perform, with Pegram, the facility’s Chief of Operations, involved as well.
“Working these extra duties has helped me a lot,” Temple said. “Working with Major Pegram has helped me a lot.”
As for horror stories about other jails and the problems inmates cause, as well as his own experiences and observations having worked at a prison, Temple said conditions at Southside Regional Jail are quite calm. Part of that, he said, is the way the jail is set up, and the other is the simple fact most of those housed in the facility are local.
“Mainly we deal with inmates from around here,” Temple said. “When I started here, probably 90 percent of the people being brought in here were people I went to high school with, though today it’s a new generation so I don’t know them as well.”
Though still a young man, Temple has 15 years experience on the job already, and said he is planning to serve out the remainder of his career at Southside Regional Jail.
“It’s always been a great place to work,” Temple said. “I’ve always said that. If you come in here and treat everybody with respect and you’re fair, it’s a very good place to work.”