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Jama Acuff named new director of Howard County corrections department

County Executive Calvin Ball named Jama Acuff the new director of the Howard County Department of Corrections on Friday.

Acuff, 71, will start May 3 and oversee the more 170 employees at the Department of Corrections. Her annual salary is $157,325.

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Acuff, a Howard County resident, spent 29 years at the U.S. Department of Justices’ Federal Bureau of Prisons working as a regional administrator, associate warden and director of strategic management. Most recently she worked at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services as warden for the department’s prerelease system and as warden at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup.

“I am thrilled to join Howard County as director of the Department of Corrections, which operates the Howard County Detention Center, a world-class facility,” Acuff said. “I was especially drawn to Howard County because of its innovative programs which prepare inmates for their successful return to the community.”

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Jama Acuff was named the new director of the Howard County Department of Corrections on Friday. (Courtesy photo)
Jama Acuff was named the new director of the Howard County Department of Corrections on Friday. (Courtesy photo)

Acuff replaces former director Jack Kavanagh, who announced his retirement in December after 18 years working in Howard County.

In the past year, Kavanagh and the department received significant public attention over the county’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the treatment of ICE detainees held at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup.

In late March, Ball terminated the county’s 26-year contract with ICE. By May 18, the Howard County Detention Center will no longer house ICE detainees, a process Acuff is likely to oversee.

Andrea King-Wessels, the former Department of Corrections deputy director, was named interim director upon Kavanagh’s retirement and will stay in that role until Acuff starts next month.

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