Bret Bullis named warden of Avery-Mitchell Correctional Facility
By Tim Gardner
The North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice has named High Country native Bret Bullis as the new superintendent of Avery-Mitchell Correctional Facility, located on the south end of North Carolina County. ‘Avery in the Kalmia community.
Bullis was the Associate Director for Custody and Operations at Marion Correctional Facility, North Carolina, a closed, minimum-custody prison, since 2020.
“Warden Bullis is a longtime resident of Spruce Pine and has extensive experience in all aspects of managing the operations of a large prison,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “He is a great addition to our team of guardians who work so hard to protect staff, offenders and our communities with care and compassion.”
In his new position, Bullis is responsible for all operations at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution, a medium-security facility that houses approximately 850 male offenders. It sits on 100 acres near the Avery and Mitchell county line. The prison is designed with three dormitory-style units, supported by a central administration building and 40 solitary confinement cells.
In 1992, a legislative study committee recommended the construction of more efficient and larger prisons that would allow the consolidation of smaller, older units. The General Assembly authorized the construction of the Avery-Mitchell Correctional Facility in 1995.
Watauga and Yancey County Correctional Centers closed in late 1998 and early 1999. Prison employees were assigned to work at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Facility and nearby prisons. Avery Correctional Center continued to operate to house construction and clean-up offenders until September 1999.
The three prison dormitories are named Avery, Watauga, and Yancey for the three facilities that have been combined. The prison cost $26.7 million to build.
Offender assignments there include the prison kitchen, clothing house, maintenance and janitorial positions. In addition, offenders participate in academic and vocational training offered by Mayland Community College.
Bullis said one of his main enduring goals as director is to hire and retain high-quality staff members.
“We have important jobs with great benefits for dedicated people who want a career in public service, to help protect their families and their communities,” he said. “We work closely together, in many ways as a family, on a vital mission.”
A veteran North Carolina state government employee, Bullis began his career with the Department of Public Safety in 2005 as a food services officer at the Mountain View Correctional Facility located adjacent to Avery Correctional Facility- Mitchell. In this position, he managed the food and nutritional needs of hundreds of offenders three times a day.
In 2007, he was promoted to prison correctional officer and sergeant in 2010. In 2012, he was chosen to be assistant director of housing unit.
Bullis was promoted in 2015 to the facility’s housing unit manager and was promoted again in 2018, to security coordinator for the West Region of the prison system. He was appointed Associate Director for Custody and Operations at Marion Correctional Institution two years ago.
Bullis is a certified General Instructor for the Department of Public Safety, with specialties in firearms, defensive restraint techniques, use of batons and pepper spray, cell extraction, and physical fitness. and employee well-being. He is a member of the American Correctional Association, the Correctional Peace Officer Foundation and the State Employees Association of North Carolina.
He graduated from Mitchell High School in Ledger. He also attended Mayland Community College, where he studied electrical engineering.
His hobbies include playing guitar and performing live, traveling, and he is an avid college sports fan of the Michigan Wolverines.
(Certain information used in this article and the photograph included in this article was provided courtesy of the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice)