Julie Jones, who headed Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, will run the state corrections department, which has been plagued by suspicious inmate deaths and allegations of corruption and systemic abuse, the Miami Herald reports. Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment to run the nation’s third largest prison system. Jones has no background in corrections, but had a “distinguished career working with our state's law enforcement community for over 30 years,” Scott said, calling her “a true reformer who is laser-focused on ensuring accountability and transparency.”
Before heading Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles from 2009 to 2014, Jones spent 26 years at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, where she was a sworn officer and served in a variety of roles, including director of law enforcement. She will be the first woman to head the Department of Corrections. Jones succeeds Michael Crews, who retired this month after enduring nearly a year of news reports about suspicious deaths, including the case of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate who was locked into a closet-like shower and sprayed with scalding water for nearly two hours as punishment for defecating on the floor of his cell.