Jan 17, 2023 - Politics

Gov. Hobbs taps Maine corrections official to run Arizona prisons

Ryan Thornell poses in front of an American flag.

Photo: Courtesy of the Arizona governor's office

Gov. Katie Hobbs named a new director at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR), a troubled agency where she's hoping to make significant changes.

Driving the news: Ryan Thornell, who is currently the deputy commissioner of corrections in Maine, will take over the agency on Jan. 30.

  • He replaces David Shinn, who led the agency under Gov. Doug Ducey.

Why it matters: ADCRR has faced serious problems.

What we're watching: Hobbs told Axios Phoenix last month that the corrections department, an area where she can act independently of the legislature, was at the top of her agenda when it came to "agency-wide reforms."

  • In a press statement announcing Thornell's hiring, the governor's office said he "has led significant initiatives that re-envision traditional policies and approaches to incarceration, reforming a wide variety of adult corrections areas, challenging the status quo and implementing 21st century, normalized corrections practices."
  • ACLU of Maine chief counsel Zach Heiden told The Arizona Republic that Thornell had been "a really a productive collaborator" in terms of providing access to medication for inmates with substance abuse problems and has been open to arguments about reforming solitary confinement practices.

Of note: Hobbs announced two other agency head appointments Tuesday: Tempe police chief Jeff Glover will lead the Department of Public Safety, and Ducey appointee Rob Woods will stay on as Department of Revenue director.


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