Gov. Bill Walker has announced Dean Williams as the Department of Corrections commissioner. Walt Monegan has been acting as interim commissioner, since the governor asked former commissioner Ron Tyler to resign in November. That move came after a review of the department revealed disturbing mistreatment of inmates and lax consequences for staff misconduct. Williams led that review.


“I don’t see a conflict on that,” Walker told reporters at a press conference Thursday. “Actually, I see, in some respects, a bit of a benefit as far as when he says he’s going in eyes-wide-open — that couldn’t be truer.”


Williams said his work on the report doesn’t mean he’ll be looking to clean out Corrections “at the lowest level.”


“Telling the truth about what’s happened in the system is not condemning the people that are running the system,” said Williams. “I have met staff who are working under extraordinary circumstances, and my goal is to fix the system so their job becomes better. And it’s also that the living conditions inside are better for the people that are inside jail.”


Williams said addressing Title 47, which allows intoxicated people to be held in a jail cell for protective custody, will be a top priority.


“I laid out the position in the report, in the recommendation that now goes to me that putting high risk individuals who are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, who have committed no crime in a jail cell with other people under the same condition is not acceptable,” said Williams.


Williams says he’s been in contact with the Legislature about the issue and has received calls from concerned hospitals about what the consequences of changing the regulation would mean for them.


“I get all that, I want to move strategically in fixing that,” said Williams. “We can’t turn that off automatically because we just don’t have the capacity right now.”


Monegan said during his interim period there’s been “movement on a number of fronts,” regarding policies and procedures in the Department of Corrections.


“We’ve also insisted some training changes in regards to the correctional officers and probations officers,” said Monegan, who adds the department has also been looking into segregation policies and Title 47.


Walker said Monegan will continue to be involved with the department for “another few weeks.”


“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Walt Monegan in our administration,” Walker added.


The governor’s office says Williams was selected as the new commissioner out of a pool of 14 applicants; Walt Monegan was one of those applicants.


 


 


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