The deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections has been appointed to lead the Arizona prison system.
Ryan Thornell was chosen by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs to become the head of the corrections department on Tuesday, according to Randall Liberty, commissioner of the Maine DOC.
Thornell, who has 18 years of experience in correctional work, was appointed deputy commissioner in April 2018. He has worked with the Maine prison system since June 2015.
He will be going into a system that is facing criticism after a federal judge recently found that Arizona’s prison health care system and confinement conditions were unconstitutional, according to AZ Central. The system has been ordered to adopt stricter guidelines in order to address unsafe conditions.
He is also going into a much larger system: Arizona’s prison system has an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion, compared with Maine’s annual budget of $200 million for its correctional facilities. Arizona’s facilities house approximately 24,000 incarcerated persons, while there are an estimated 1,800 people incarcerated in Maine.
The Arizona prison system also employs 10,000 people in various positions, while Maine’s staff of prison guards, personnel, probation officers and others comes in at around 1,200.
Thornell was serving as deputy commissioner of the Maine prison system during a Bangor Daily News investigation into the Maine Department of Corrections use of solitary confinement.