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Third Prison Chief Under Scott Named, Hopes To Bring 'Stability and Consistency'

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Sascha Cordner
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WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Rick Scott named a new person to head the state’s prison system Monday. Florida Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Mike Crews has moved up to lead the agency, making him the third chief under Scott in less than two years.

With about 30 years of state corrections and law enforcement experience, Crews says he hopes to bring stability and consistency to the department.

“Often times the department does make the news for a variety of things that are just not pleasant, but those particular circumstances in no shape, form, or fashion represent the 99.9-percent of the incredible men and women who work at this agency," said Crews. "And, it truly is a privilege for me to be able to stand here today as the new Secretary of the Department of Corrections.”

Crews is replacing his former boss Ken Tucker, who was set to retire in March, but is now leaving a few months earlier. Tucker replaced Governor Scott’s first choice, former Indiana prison chief, Edwin Buss, who was only in the post for eight months, before leaving amid fallout over prison privatization. The department is currently embroiled in a court battle over the privatization of prison health care services.

Crews says if the privatization does not go forward, the department will face an additional deficit of up to 90-million dollars over the next 18 months. He says that will take away from some of the their current legislative budget priorities, which includes 12.5-million dollars to fund about 250 positions at several of the state’s high-risk prison facilities.

“We have an opportunity here to do some amazing things, but we also have some challenges. Challenges for us is certainly going to be continuing to move forward with reducing and eliminating the current budget deficit we have, but I have total confidence we’ll get to where we want to be as an agency,” said Crews.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.