Iowan picked to head prisons

Gov. Martin O'Malley has tapped the head of prisons in Iowa to turn around a Maryland correctional system beset by gang violence and contraband, where two guards have been killed in the past year.

O'Malley confirmed last night that he has nominated Gary Maynard, 63, as the state's corrections secretary. The appointment was first reported by news media in Iowa.


"In the course of the transition process, very few departments have concerned me as deeply as the management of our correctional institutions," O'Malley said in a statement released last night.

"We need a proven leader to turn around safety and programming within our prisons. We have deep challenges that we need to address and turn around. Gary is the best there is, and we are lucky to have been able to recruit him, given Maryland's deep challenges."


The appointment comes less than two weeks after incoming Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said that Maynard would continue in his job as corrections director in that state.

An Oklahoma native, Maynard has worked in corrections since 1970, when he began as a counselor in a work release center in Oklahoma City, according to his Web site. Later, he was a prison warden in two Oklahoma prisons and served as that state's corrections chief. He was also assistant commissioner of corrections in Arkansas.

From 2001 to 2003, he served as director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections before becoming Iowa's corrections chief in 2003.

He is president of the American Corrections Association and served for more than 32 years in the Army National Guard.

In coming to Maryland as secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, he manages a $1 billion budget and a system with 27 state prisons, 26,700 inmates and 66,100 people serving probation or parole.

He replaces Mary Ann Saar, who served four turbulent years in the Ehrlich administration.

Saar had a reputation as a reformer, establishing a new division to provide better medical and mental health services to inmates. She also pushed for pay raises for officers and created new professional development and training programs for public safety staff.

But two corrections officers were killed by inmates while on duty last year, the first such deaths in 22 years. Many corrections officers complained that cutbacks she ordered left the prison system understaffed and unsafe.


While in Iowa, Maynard battled prison security issues as well and drew criticism from the union representing corrections officers.

Two convicts escaped from a maximum-security prison in Fort Madison in November 2005, prompting a public employees union to call for his dismissal, according to the Des Moines Register.

A human-rights group criticized the department's use of trained attack dogs to remove unruly inmates from their cells on 63 occasions between March 2005 and March 2006. Maynard later said he would no longer use the dogs.

Last year, while serving on the Commission on Safety and Abuse in American prisons, Maynard helped prepare a report that called for reforms, including violence prevention, prison oversight committees and improved worker training.

"These reforms are not just for the prisoners, but for the public safety and the greater communities," Maynard said at a U.S. Senate hearing. "The prison system is supposed to keep the public safe."

Maynard earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from East Central University in Oklahoma and a masters in counseling psychology from Oklahoma State University.