Politics
11:16 am
Wed April 20, 2011

New Department of Corrections Chief named

Governor Rick Snyder has named Jackson County Sheriff Daniel Heyns as the new director of the Michigan Department of Corrections. He'll start his new duties on June 1st.

From the Governor's Press release:

Heyns earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1973 and a master’s in criminal justice, with a correctional administration focus, from Michigan State University in 1977.  Heyns obtained his State of Michigan Police Officer Certification in 1981, is a graduate of the National FBI Academy and has completed special weapons and tactics training...

Heyns, of Jackson, has served as Jackson County sheriff since 2003.  He is responsible for a $12.5 million budget, a 450-bed jail operation, 911 central dispatch center and multiple specialized units including marine patrol, detective bureau, K-9, narcotics, traffic, firearms, Special Response Team and school liaison.  He previously served as Jackson County undersheriff and was a captain in the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

The Associated Press notes that Heyns was a vocal opponent of Governor Granholm's plan to release more nonviolent prisoners eligible for parole.

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Snyder has chosen for his new corrections director a sheriff who vocally opposed the last governor's actions to release more nonviolent prisoners eligible for parole.

Jackson County Sheriff Daniel Heyns told reporters Wednesday that he's still studying how the department can cut costs while keeping the public safe. He plans to visit neighboring states to look at what they're doing to hold down costs and crime.

Michigan often keeps inmates long after other states would have released them for similar crimes, driving up prison costs by millions of dollars a year and eating up a quarter of the state's general fund, to the tune of nearly $2 billion a year.

Heyns replaces the current director Dick McKeon. McKeon will stay on to work as special adviser to the Heyns.  The Snyder administration says "McKeon will assist in facilitating the transition to Director Heyns and will serve at the discretion of the director."