Gov. Rick Scott's choice to reform Florida's prison system came from Indiana and quickly decided that the agency needed new leadership. In a few months, says the Miami Herald, Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss has hired more than a dozen people from his former state. They include his second-in command, chief financial officer, personal secretary, regional coordinator, and a warden — 14 people in all with a combined salary of more than $1 million. Dan Ronay, Buss' deputy secretary and chief of staff, is the highest-paid Hoosier hire at $120,000 a year. He held a similar position in Indiana under Buss.
Ronay said he and Buss needed to move quickly to improve the nation's third-largest prison system in the wake of a scathing report by Scott's law-and-order transition team. “Our team found that DOC is broken,” the report said. “It is lacking leadership, vision and courage. [ ] We found that a pattern of promoting from within has created an entrenched culture resistant to creativity and innovation.” Under Buss' direction, the notoriously insular prison system has become an incubator of new ideas from special prison dorms for veterans to more educational and re-entry efforts to reduce the chance that inmates will return to prison. Still, Scott's staff questioned Buss' decision to sign a deal with MSNBC to tape six episodes of its Lockup series at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and ordered the contract scrapped. The network would have paid the state $110,000, and the prison system would have had final say on which scenes were used.