Members of the Baltimore County Council were full of praise as they confirmed Gail Watts as the county's new director of corrections.
The council voted 6-0 on Monday to support Watts' promotion to the top job, replacing Deborah Richardson, who retired. Councilman Todd Crandell, a Dundalk Republican, was absent.
Watts, 52, joined the county's corrections department in 1990 and rose from correctional officer to supervisory positions. She also served in the U.S. Army.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz nominated Watts to replace Richardson. He called Watts a "natural leader."
Council members said they were impressed with Watts, meeting with her privately in recent days. She also appeared publicly before the council during a work session last week.
The county's jail in Towson has about 1,400 inmates. The corrections department also is responsible for pre-trial services, home detention and other programs.
Dozens of supporters joined Watts at Monday's council meeting and cheered when the vote was taken.