PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Doug Ducey appointed a longtime federal prison official on Monday to serve as the new director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
David Shinn has worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons since 1991 and has held several management positions at the agency, most recently serving as assistant director for the program review division in Washington.
He succeeds Charles Ryan, who served atop the Department of Corrections for a decade before his retirement in September.
"Our goal was to identify a leader with extensive experience in the corrections field, a record of solving problems and getting results, and a passion for public service," Ducey said in a statement.
Shinn takes over as the agency has been dogged by complaints that it has been dragging its feet for years in complying with improvements it promised to make five years ago when settling a lawsuit over the quality of health care for Arizona's 34,000 inmates.
In the summer of 2018, Ryan was found to be in civil contempt of court and the state was fined $1.4 million for persistent noncompliance with the settlement.
Attorneys representing inmates have asked a judge to appoint an official to run medical and mental health services in state prisons due to the state's repeated failure to improve the care. The judge hasn't yet ruled on the takeover request.
Shortly before his retirement, Ryan was criticized for the failure of locks on cell doors at an Arizona prison that in some cases allowed for beatings of prisoners and guards.
Caroline Isaacs, program director for the American Friends Service Committee-Arizona, a Quaker group that has called for an end to mass incarceration, said it's a good sign that Ducey picked someone who wasn't currently employed at the Department of Corrections.
"I'm hoping that's a signal that there is true and meaningful change on the way," Issacs said.