Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected on Monday to name a U.S. State Department official to run the Illinois Department of Corrections, the governor's office told The Southern Illinoisan on Sunday.
Rauner has selected Donald Stolworthy, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, to oversee thousands of correctional officers and other employees in the $1 billion-plus agency that includes 60 prisons, transition centers, work camps and other facilities across Illinois.
State prisons are one of the largest employers in Southern Illinois, and workers, union leaders and others have anxiously awaited Rauner’s appointment of a new IDOC director.
The appointment comes as state lawmakers push to reopen Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County, shuttered by former Gov. Pat Quinn in early 2013, and union officials continue to express concern about prison overcrowding that they believe jeopardizes staff and inmate safety.
Stolworthy will replace S.A. “Tony” Godinez, 62, who had been at the helm of the prison system since May 2011 until his temporary replacement last week.
Stolworthy will earn $150,228, an amount set by statute, which was the same salary that Godinez received.
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According to the governor's office, Stolworthy is a nationally “recognized expert in corrections reform” with 15 years of corrections experience.
Stolworth is currently a corrections team leader at the U.S. State Department in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, where he is charged with conducting assessments of foreign prison systems to see how the United States can help transform those systems and further U.S. strategic interests, according to his biography provided by Rauner’s office.
Stolworthy managed the construction of all five prisons in Iraq as the deputy director of operations and warden adviser while working for the State Department and U.S. Justice Department, the release states.
His career in corrections began in 1999 as a probation and parole officer with the Alaska Department of Corrections. He was promoted three years later to deputy commissioner of operations, where he oversaw reforms aimed at making the department more efficient. According to the release, those reforms included creation of a “chief time accounting officer,” in addition to revising sentence computation policy to reflect statutory changes, improving accuracy of sentencing computations and reducing the department’s liability.
Stolworthy has worked as a special assistant to the governor of Alaska, as a legislative aide to a member of the Alaska House of Representatives and as the division director of the Alaska Charitable Gaming Division.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in history, and has attended the Probation and Parole Officer Basic Academy in Alaska.
Rauner has said he hopes to reform the corrections system to cut down on recidivism and systematically reduce the prison population, and also has called for the hiring of 473 new correctional officers in an attempt to reduce overtime payouts that have topped $60 million the previous two fiscal years.
On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI