From: Miami Herald
Dec. 17th 2012
BY BILL KACZOR
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s new prison chief on Monday inherited a deficit of about $60 million and a legal dispute over privatizing inmate health care that he says could put his agency much deeper in debt.
Michael D. Crews spoke about the challenges he’s facing as secretary of corrections a couple hours after Gov. Rick Scott announced his appointment to succeed Ken Tucker, who retired. Crews had been deputy secretary since last year.
“I have total confidence in the people that I have the opportunity to work with here that we are ultimately going to get to where we want to be as an agency,” Crews told reporters.
He began his 26-year career in corrections and law enforcement as a probation and parole officer. Later, he worked as a correctional officer and then had various jobs in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement including director of the agency’s professionalism program and chief of its bureau of standards.
Scott, a former hospital chain CEO who was new to politics when elected in 2010, again has turned to an insider after initially appointing people without Florida government experience to many key posts when he took office nearly two years ago.
His initial appointee as corrections secretary, former Indiana prisons chief Edwin Buss, lasted just six months. Scott forced him out in August 2011 after initial health care privatization bids would have benefited a consultant whom Buss had hired. Scott’s office also overrode a decision by Buss to give MSNBC access to Florida’s prisons for its “Lockup” program.