Florida Governor Rick Scott will announce Monday a promotion from within at the Florida Department of Corrections. Currently holding the number two spot as deputy secretary, Michael Crews will be elevated to the top position within the nation’s third largest prison system.
Crews will succeed Ken Tucker, whose retirement becomes official on December 28th. Like his predecessor, Crews was a long-time official at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before switching agencies and joining the Department of Corrections.
Crews will be Scott's third prisons chief in less than two years. Scott had previously selected Edwin Buss, a highly-regarded former Indiana corrections director. Following several clashes with the governor’s office, he was forced out after just eight months as secretary.
In following Buss, Tucker was seen more or less as a caretaker as he long ago planned to retire in March 2013 by entering the DROP program, or the state's deferred retirement option program.
Turnover at the Florida Department of Corrections is not unique. The appointment of Crews is the sixth in six years for an agency that has been hit by scandal and controversy. For example, former secretary James Crosby is serving eight years in federal prison following a 2007 plea agreement involving kickbacks and bribes from a prison contractor.
Crews will take charge at a time when a state court dealt the agency a major setback by striking down the planned outsourcing of all inmate health care services for most of the state. The agency is appealing that decision.
With more than 100,000 inmates and an annual budget of more than $2 billion, Florida's prison system is the nation's third largest.
According to Melissa Sellers, a governor’s office spokeswoman, an official announcement of Crews’ promotion will be made early Monday.