Wanted: Correction Commissioner for small state in southern New England.
Responsibilities: Must be expert in running prisons, reducing crime and recidivism and implementing reforms.
Salary: $128,582 to $239,364 with generous benefit package worth over 50 percent of annual salary.
The state is advertising nationally for a new corrections commissioner with the experience to lead the government’s biggest department and is willing to pay up to $239,000 for the right person.
The new commissioner would head a department of 5,769 employees and 19 correction facilities. Besides keeping the staff safe and preventing escapes, the new commissioner would also be tasked with reducing recidivism, protecting victims’ rights and working with local police and the FBI to reduce crime outside prison walls.
“The Correction Commissioner has to have a grasp on all this stuff. That’s a very unusual skill set. If we find the best person we will see a lot less crime and lot less people in prisons,” said Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criminal justice advisor.
The state is hoping the wide salary range will attract an experienced commissioner and help to fend off competition from New York and Oklahoma, among other states looking for correction commissioners.
Lawlor said the salary is the “established range” for the position, though he acknowledged it was a bit generous compared to other states. Oklahoma, for example, is offering $132,000 to $187,292.
“Connecticut generally pays more than other states for these jobs because it has the highest cost of living in the country,” Lawlor said.
The new commissioner would replace Leo Arnone, who retired in April, and was being paid $151,000 annually. Interim Commissioner James Dzurenda, who is paid $149,00, has been serving since then.
The correction commissioner job also comes a long list of benefits and options, listed in the ad. These include medical and dental insurance; accrued vacation, sick time and personal time; 12 paid holidays, life insurance, long- and short term disability insurance; flexible spending accounts such as dependent care, medical flexible spending and qualified transportation; a retirement plan; a deferred compensation plan; a college saving program and auto and homeowners insurance.
State officials hope to interview three to five candidates and to make a decision in September, Lawlor said.
The new commissioner would oversee the state’s largest department, handle a $670 million budget and ultimately oversee 17,100 inmates.
“First and foremost for this particular job you really have to be an expert in running prisons. It’ s not good enough to be a big-picture, policy kind of person. You really have to know everything about the safety issues of running a prison. You really have to know your stuff,” Lawlor said.
Malloy is looking for a new leader who can also collaborate with local police and the FBI to reduce crime in the community, Lawlor said.
“The amount of information you can get out of prison is incredible. All of the prison inmates’ calls are recorded. The ability to work together very important,” Lawlor said.
The commissioner also would be expected to work to protect victims’ rights and launch a state-of-the-art best practices unit.