James McDonough, the retired Army colonel whose by-the-book management style returned stability to a Florida prison system wracked by scandal, will resign this month, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Gov. Charlie Crist said a replacement would be named as early as next week. McDonough, 61, is a no-nonsense combat veteran who saw action in two wars and received three Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart and wrote three books. He made a very public exit from federal government to protest President Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal.
McDonough oversees a system with 95,000 inmates and 150,000 more ex-offenders under supervision. He becomes the first agency head to leave since the governor took office slightly more than a year ago. He departs as a prolonged slump in tax revenue will make it more difficult for the state to build enough prison beds to keep pace with a growing inmate population. McDonough worked in obscurity as then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s drug policy adviser when Corrections Secretary James Crosby left in a scandal in early 2006. McDonough, who earns $128,750 a year, offended powerful forces such as the Police Benevolent Association, the politically active union that represents correctional officers, which protested new weight-training rules.