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Sarah Huckabee Sanders taps Arizona prison official to lead Arkansas Department of Corrections

By: - January 3, 2023 5:59 pm

Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders will appoint an Arizona prisons official to lead the Arkansas Department of Corrections after she takes office next week.

Joe Profiri, whom Sanders plans to tap as her corrections secretary, is the deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, which he also led in an interim capacity in 2019.

Joe Profiri (Photo Courtesy of the Arizona Department of Corrections)

Profiri will lead a department tasked with running Arkansas prisons as well as the state’s parole and probation systems. He’ll replace Secretary Solomon Graves.

The department has struggled over the last few years to recruit and retain correctional officers, both in prisons and parole and probation offices.

The agency has also long been strapped for space, relying on county jails to incarcerate convicted individuals that the Corrections Department doesn’t have the capacity to house.

The state is in the early stages of a large expansion of a North Arkansas prison as well as the construction of a new, 1,000 bed prison.

Sanders spoke often during the gubernatorial campaign about public safety and the need to lock up “violent, repeat” offenders.

“As our state prepares to confront rising crime head-on and devote the necessary resources to increase prison capacity to allow for the retention of violent, repeat offenders, I made it a priority to select an individual with decades of experience in correctional oversight and who shares my commitment to public safety,” Sanders said in a statement.

“Joe Profiri is that person. His background and experiences, not only at the managerial level but more importantly as a correctional officer, in Arizona have uniquely prepared him to lead our Corrections Department with accountability, integrity, and professionalism. I look forward to welcoming Joe and his family to Arkansas.”

Profiri’s career in corrections began in 1988 as a correctional officer, according to his biography. He has also worked as a sheriff’s deputy, police officer and criminal investigator.

He held a number of leadership positions in the Arizona Department of Corrections before his promotion to deputy director in 2018.

“The work of corrections to keep communities safe by professionally retaining violent, repeat offenders and adequately preparing offender populations for reintegration is challenging but a passion of mine,” Profiri said in a statement. “I am honored to accept the governor-elect’s nomination and to bring my dedication and skills to Arkansas.”

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. He spent the better part of the last decade investigating and reporting on Arkansas government and politics. For three years, he covered education policy, medical marijuana and the Arkansas General Assembly as part of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Capitol Bureau. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. Hunter got his start in journalism covering sports for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.

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