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KSR warden plans retirement

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By The Staff

Larry Chandler’s name has become synonymous with Kentucky Corrections. Twenty-six years ago he walked through the doors of the Kentucky State Reformatory and went to work as a correctional officer.

At the end of August when he retires as warden of KSR, he will walk out those same doors leaving his mark on not only that prison, but the entire state correctional system.

Chandler has served as warden of three prisons, helped design the state’s newest prison, and served as an adjunct criminal justice professor at the University of Louisville. He has attained the highest designation, certified corrections executive, from the American Correctional Association and has also attained the designation of a certified correctional health care professional from ACA. He was the first in Kentucky to receive these honors. In 2006, he was named “Warden of the Year” by the Kentucky Department of Corrections,” and twice in his career he has been a nominee for the national warden of the year award presented by the North America Association of Wardens and Superintendents.

“Larry Chandler’s retirement is bittersweet for this Department,” Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said. “No one has earned it more or worked harder during their career with us. He will truly be missed and we hate to see him go. I know our department is better today for his dedication to the improvement of professionalism in the organization and for the leadership he has provided.”

Chandler held several positions at KSR, including shift captain, internal affairs lieutenant and E-Squad commander, working his way up through the ranks to administrative captain. In 1991, he was promoted to deputy warden II at the Bell County Forestry Camp. He was again promoted in 1994 to deputy warden III at the Green River Correctional Complex and assisted in opening that institution, and he was instrumental in the planning and design of the Little Sandy Correctional Complex that opened in 2005. In June 1996, he was named warden at Green River. Three years later, Chandler was named warden at Luther Luckett.

Chandler has a bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Louisville and a master’s in management from Brescia University.

Taking the reins at KSR will be Kentucky native J. David Donahue. The appointment returns Donahue, the head of Indiana’s Department of Corrections, to his Kentucky roots.

A native of Bardstown, Donahue is a former deputy commissioner with the Commonwealth’s Department of Corrections.

“Dave Donahue is a highly respected corrections professional and I’m pleased to make this announcement,” Thompson said. “When you’re searching for an individual to serve as the warden of the state’s largest institution, and a facility with all the dynamics of the reformatory, you must have someone of a certain caliber and level of experience. We are fortunate to have been able to recruit Dave.”

Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown said Donahue’s experience in the corrections field will be invaluable as the state moves forward with its criminal justice reforms.

“The challenges facing the Commonwealth with respect to our rising prison population demand that we employ innovative approaches and implement best practices,” Brown said.

“David’s expertise in enhancing efficiency, preparing offenders for successful reentry, and providing better protection to the public will be integral to that mission.”

Donahue has served as Indiana’s Commissioner of Corrections since January 2005, leading a workforce of 9,000 employees and supervising nearly 39,000 offenders.

“I am humbled by and grateful to both Secretary Brown and Commissioner Thompson for their confidence in me and my ability to have an impact on Kentucky’s criminal justice system,” Donahue said. “I begin this exciting new challenge fully energized to the task, especially because it brings me and my family back to our home state.”

Donahue holds a bachelor’s degree in police administration from Eastern Kentucky University, and is certified as a corrections executive from the Commission on Correctional Certification and American Correctional Association.

Donahue and his wife, Jan, have three children.