Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Prisons Chief McDonough To Resign

By Josh Poltilove of The Tampa Tribune

Published: January 9, 2008

TAMPA — Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough plans to step down from his post, state Rep. Dennis Ross has confirmed.

Ross, R-Lakeland, said McDonough's departure will be a tremendous loss.

"He was probably the guy that we needed in the job," Ross said. "He was very rigid. He was very disciplined. … He came in when his predecessor was indicted, and he inherited a mess — not only a morale mess, but a financial mess."

A state Department of Corrections spokeswoman declined to comment on McDonough's plans.

McDonough, who stepped in as secretary in 2006, vowed to clean up corruption within the department. His predecessor was sentenced to federal prison after being convicted of accepting bribes in a kickback scheme.

McDonough purged personnel, including a deputy assistant secretary and several prison wardens.
In June 2006, he told The Associated Press that the state's prisons had been rid of organized corruption from officials.

He announced late last year, however, that an investigation had showed more than 1,000 Florida prison inmates and their families paid for improper transfers to other facilities. The investigation led the department to reprimand three high-ranking officials for the way they helped allow inmates to transfer.

One of those officials resigned. If he hadn't, he would have been fired, McDonough said.
State Sen. Victor Crist said McDonough has worked quickly and discreetly to clean up the department after entering in difficult circumstances.

"He walked into a can of worms and a pit of snakes," said Crist, R-Tampa.

Crist said McDonough is a dynamic man who gained the Legislature's respect.

McDonough isn't the kind of person who would leave the department without a good contingency plan, Crist said.

"He means what he says, he says what he means and he follows through," Crist said. "He is a tough negotiator. He is goal oriented, and he is focused beyond belief."

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at or (813) 259-7691.

No comments: