Eastern Kentucky University alum, Cookie Crews, has been appointed as the next Commissioner of the Kentucky corrections department.
Governor Andy Beshear announced the new appointment on Wednesday, May 13 as the correctional system is facing problems with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cookie Crews knows our corrections system and is well suited to lead this department during a trying time for the agency, our employees and the inmates,” said Beshear during his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday. “She is a dedicated, experienced leader who has worked at every level of the agency.”
Crews will be tasked with slowing the spread of the coronavirus in the state’s correctional facilities. The Green River Correctional facility in Western Kentucky has seen a large number of coronavirus cases. As of May 14, there are 356 inmate cases and 50 staff cases. There have been two inmate deaths as of May 14.
“One of the most important roles that Commissioner Crews is going to be undertaking is ensuring that we are doing everything possible to protect those at Green River,” said Beshear.
Crews has headed the agency's Health Services Division for the past eight years.
“I’m incredibly honored to accept this role,” said Crews in a press release. “To lead the agency I’ve devoted my entire adult life to is a dream come true. I’m excited to guide the Department of Corrections and the amazing group of corrections professionals who make up Kentucky DOC.”
On Wednesday, the governor cited her long corrections career, which began as a correctional officer in 1984 at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women (KCIW). She served as warden at four prisons before turning her attention to health services.
She has served as warden at KCIW, the Kentucky State Reformatory, Frankfort Career Development Center and Luther Luckett Correctional Complex.
Crews is a graduate of the College of Justice and Safety at EKU where she majored in corrections and public relations. She has been serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky for 36 years.
Randy White, who has served as acting commissioner since February, will resume his role as deputy commissioner overseeing primarily the state’s prisons, the Governor’s office said in a press release.