The Arizona State Prison Complex in Winslow will have a new man in charge when the appointment of David Cluff as the new warden becomes effective on Saturday, September 15.
Cluff, who has been working for the Arizona Department of Corrections for 21 years, attributes his being a part of the system to his father being in the same profession.
He began his corrections career at the Florence Complex in 1980. In 1995, Cluff moved four miles east to the Eyman Complex and remained there for three years. While there, he served as the Associate Warden of Special Management Unit II, where he watched over death row inmates.
He returned to the Florence Complex for a little less than a year and then was relocated to the Phoenix Complex where he served as Deputy Warden of the Alhambra/Flamenco Unit in 1998. However, the following year he returned to the Eyman Complex as Deputy Warden and remained there until he was relocated to the Tucson Complex in March of 2001, as the Deputy Warden of Operations, his current position.
He has served at every level of security within the corrections system from minimum to maximum security units.
Cluff sees the move to Winslow as “nothing but a positive change.” He said one thing he has learned in his years of service is that when a prison is running smoothly, there are still some things that can be better. He hopes to apply this motto to the Winslow Complex.
He added that he would like to also see involvement from both the Winslow community and the facility’s employees. “Support runs both directions. As a manager, we ensure the protection of the public and that is one way the public comes to understand the corrections system and functions of the officers,” he said.
Cluff compared running a prison to running a city to better illustrate the responsibilities of his position. “There is very little differences between being a Mayor and a Warden. The complex has its own fire department, police department, we also have sanitation issues,” he said.
Cluff and his wife, Sheri, will arrive in Winslow soon, as he begins on September 26. The couple has two children, David Jr., who lives in Mesa, and Kristie, who lives in Gilbert.
As an employee of the corrections system, Cluff became available for retirement after 20 years of service. He said, however, he isn’t looking to retire anytime soon.
Dan Vannelli, who has served as warden of the Winslow Complex since August of 1999, is retiring. Vannelli said he hopes to use his experience to teach the future officers of the corrections system. He taught at Northland Pioneer College while in Winslow and hopes to teach criminal justice or correctional management administration in a college format.