Secretary Erik Hooks Announces Interim Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Experienced Advisory Board Also Named to Help Oversee Prison Reform


Judge Reuben Young will serve in an interim capacity as the Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice (ACJJ), Secretary Erik A. Hooks announced today. Judge Young will fill the position within the Department of Public Safety formerly held by David Guice.

“Judge Young shares my vision that the safety and security of our prison staff and the public must be our top priority within the Division of Prisons, and he clearly understands that we must find ways to make our prisons safer while also housing many inmates with histories of very violent behavior,” Secretary Hooks said.

As a Superior Court judge, Young is a distinguished jurist who has earned a reputation for holding individuals accountable for their actions. Judge Young also has experience managing Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice from his time serving as the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety in 2012. He will work with prison officials to enhance safety within prisons, as well as build on efforts to make communities safer by rehabilitating offenders who will be leaving prison so they can become productive members of society.

In announcing the selection of Judge Young, Secretary Hooks said, "I am confident Judge Young has the discernment and ability to lead and improve the entire Division, which also includes the vital work of Community Corrections and Juvenile Justice. We cannot overlook the fact those are important components under the direction of the Chief Deputy Secretary and factored into the selection of Judge Young as the right person to lead the Division during this interim.”

Judge Young is expected to assume his new post December 29.

Secretary Hooks has determined the Director of Prisons, Kenneth Lassiter, will now report directly to the Chief Deputy Secretary. The secretary stated, "As the largest division within DPS, Prisons should have a direct seat at the leadership table. This will give leaders who work in our prisons a more prominent voice to share their staff’s concerns as we work with the Governor and the legislature to improve prison safety."

With the creation of the new Security Accountability Section within the Division of Prisons, Secretary Hooks also announced Loris Sutton will serve as its chief. Sutton has significant experience working in Special Operations and within prisons, to include her service as the Acting Superintendent at Polk Correctional Institution. Among other duties, the Security Accountability Section will conduct independent safety audits of each correctional facility, utilizing best practices and methods including those provided by the National Institute of Corrections.

Prison Reform Advisory Board

Secretary Hooks also announced today that he has established a Prison Reform Advisory Board to provide ongoing expert advice on best practices for maintaining prison safety.

Members who have agreed to serve on the board include:

  • James B. French, who rose through the ranks of Prisons serving in many roles including Warden, Director of Prisons and Deputy Secretary for Adult Correction;
  • Stanley Drewery, a retired North Carolina Correctional Officer and President of SEANC (State Employees Association of North Carolina);
  • Art Beeler, who has a distinguished career in the federal correctional system, served on many boards and committees for the American Correctional Association, retired as Warden from Butner Federal Correctional Institution and currently serves as a professor at NC Central University;
  • Mike Killmer, who has an extensive background in corrections with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and retired as the Associate Warden of Butner Federal Correctional Institution.

Additional members with prison expertise from North Carolina and other states are likely to be appointed in the future. This group will advise the Interim Chief Deputy Secretary and the Director of Prisons on emerging best practices in corrections from around the country and within the federal system.