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Metro Newsroom

Abramson Names Corrections Transition Team

Thursday August 28, 2003

Mayor Jerry Abramson today named nine people to a Corrections Transition Team that will help conduct a search for new leadership in the Corrections Department and assess the recommendations made in a recent audit of the jail.

Deputy Mayor William Summers IV and Kim Allen, secretary of Louisville Metro Government’s Public Protection Cabinet, will chair the nine-member team.

“We have a jail and Corrections Department that provides a safe and secure environment,” Abramson said. “But we must take the next step. We must transform our Corrections Department into one that is a model for excellence throughout the country.”

Abramson commissioned an independent study of the Corrections Department shortly after taking office to assess jail operations and seek “best practices” improvements. The audit, announced by Abramson on Aug. 8, called for a change in the identity and philosophical approach of the jail. John Rees and Associates, a consulting team with more than 100 years of combined experience in the corrections field, conducted the audit.

Corrections Chief Michael Horton, who has nearly 30 years of experience in corrections, recently decided to retire. Deputy Chief Joe Payne is serving as interim chief of the department. Corrections Transition Team members include:
· Omar Ayyash, director of the Office of International Affairs in Louisville Metro Government. In that role, Ayyash serves as a liaison to immigrants in Louisville Metro.

· Ishmon Burks, secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet. Burks has oversight over the Kentucky Department of Corrections and the Kentucky State Police, among other departments.
· J. Price Foster, Professor of Justice Administration, University of Louisville. Foster is the former Dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs and Dean and Director of the School of Justice Administration.

· Circuit Judge Kathleen Voor Montano, chair of the Criminal Justice Commission, Family Court, Division 10. Montano is a former district judge and senior staff attorney for the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

· Sheila Shuster, executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition. Schuster also is a founding member and co-chair of Kentuckians for Health Care Reform, a grassroots advocacy coalition of more than 200 organizations.

· Dr. Bruce Williams, pastor of Bates Memorial Baptist Church. Among many civic organizations, Bates also has been a board member of Prodigal Ministries, a prison ministry organization.

· Deborah Wilson, chair of the Department of Justice Administration, University of Louisville. Wilson also has conducted program and management assessments for federal, state and local organizations, including the Kentucky State Department of Corrections and the Jefferson County Crime Commission.

Abramson said that Corrections was one of the few departments that he had not been familiar with from his time as mayor of Louisville for 13 years because it was a county-run operation.
“This task force – composed of experts from across the spectrum of areas impacted by Corrections – will give me in-depth perspective about the changes suggested in the audit that can help our facility become a model of excellence,” Abramson said. “At the same time, they also have the range of experiences and background to help us find the right person to lead this department in the future.”