State Politics

DeSantis picks former head of federal prisons to lead Florida Dept. of Corrections

Bureau of Prisons Director Mark Inch, left, toured the Northeast Region facilities in Philadelphia with Northeast Regional Director Michael Carvajal In December 2017.
Bureau of Prisons Director Mark Inch, left, toured the Northeast Region facilities in Philadelphia with Northeast Regional Director Michael Carvajal In December 2017. Bureau of Prisons

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis named Mark Inch, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and a retired two-star Army general, to lead the Florida Department of Corrections.

Inch’s appointment Thursday marks the first major hire of an agency head who hails from outside Florida. The transition team had previously said it was recruiting out-of-state, but the only picks that had been previously announced were of Florida public officials, lobbyists or business people.

Inch’s time as chief of the federal Department of Justice’s prison arm was brief. He was appointed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August 2017, then resigned unexpectedly in May 2018.

The New York Times later reported that Inch told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein he was tired of the administration flouting “departmental norms.” And he felt that Sessions largely excluded him from major staffing, budget and policy decisions, according to the Times, in addition to being caught in an ideological war between Sessions and Jared Kushner, who disagreed on criminal justice reform.

During his career in the Army, Inch was the commanding general of the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to the transition team’s announcement, and he advised senior Army officials on policing, rule of law and detainee operations.

When it comes to criminal justice reform, Inch wrote a December op-ed in The Daily Caller in which he supports the federal First Step Act and said that “rehabilitation is an honorable and integral calling of the corrections professional.”

A Miami Herald I-Team investigation into corruption, sexual abuse and medical neglect at the largest women's prison in the nation, Lowell Correctional. Reporting by Julie K. Brown / jbrown@miamiherald.com.

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