Massachusetts Department of Correction Commissioner Harold Clarke is leaving to take a job as head of prisons in Virginia to be closer to siblings and an adult daughter, reports the Boston Herald. Clarke was appointed commissioner in 2007 by Gov. Deval Patrick, and came in as a reformer committed to reducing the recidivism rate that he said was the result of failed get-tough policies.
“Our union didn't always see eye to eye with the commissioner, but we were glad to work together,” said Massachusetts Correctional Officers Union President Brian Jensen. “We were as surprised as anyone to hear of his departure.” The cash-strapped system has been plagued by overcrowding and a spate of suicides in recent years. “Inmate suicides and staff assaults have been on the rise,” said Jensen, blaming 2004 reforms. “It's been on the rise during the current regime and they continued to focus on re-entry and rehabilitation.”