Governor Hutchinson today announced he’d chosen Solomon Graves as new director of the state Department of Corrections, a position that carries the title of secretary in the governor’s cabinet. The appointment must be approved by the state Board of Corrections.
He will succeed Wendy Kelley, who’d earlier announced her retirement at the end of this month. He had been chief of staff at the department, which includes a community corrections division.
Kelley, a lawyer, had headed the department since 2015 after joining the department in 2006. She cited family reasons for a decision to step down.
The new director faces the usual problems, a growing prison population and tight state budget, all exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected hundreds of inmates and staff in several prison units. A lawsuit challenges health conditions in the prisons and advocates for justice reform have pressed for release of non-violent prisoners.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from UA Little Rock and master’s from Webster University.
He was a parole board administrator for almost 10 years and also served once as information officer for the corrections department.