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Sununu seeks to promote from within to run state prison system

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

October 25. 2017 11:43AM




CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has nominated Helen Hanks to serve as commissioner of the Department of Corrections, replacing incumbent William Wrenn, who recently announced he would not seek reappointment.

Since 2014, Hanks has served as assistant commissioner and has been heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the department as it faces several challenges, including the opening of a new women’s prison that is ready for occupancy but grossly understaffed.

She has been responsible for overseeing the women’s prison project.

From 2011 to 2014, Hanks served as director of medical and msychiatric services for the DOC, including supervision of the Secure Psychiatric Unit, which has come under attack by mental health advocates, who argue that the state should fund a secure psychiatric facility outside the state prison system.

“In my over 14 years of working for the department, I have always been committed to developing the highest level of knowledge, skills and abilities to address the complicated issues facing our system,” she said in her application. “I present myself to you as a key partner in working to overcome the obstacles ahead for the department in areas such as recruitment and retention, facilitating the opening of our new facility and developing strategic approaches to maintain quality while reducing overall costs.”

The Executive Council is expected to accept the nomination Wednesday and is likely to schedule a public hearing before taking a confirmation vote.


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