FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A 36-year veteran of Kentucky's corrections department has been promoted as its next commissioner at a time when the state is trying to contain a coronavirus outbreak at a prison.
Cookie Crews, who has headed the agency's Health Services Division for the past eight years, was selected as state corrections commissioner by Gov. Andy Beshear.
On Wednesday, the governor cited her long corrections career, which began as a correctional officer in 1984. She served as warden at four prisons before turning her attention to health services.
Crews assumes the commissioner's role as the state tries to extinguish a COVID-19 outbreak at the Green River Correctional Complex, where the virus spread to several hundred inmates and staff.
To try to curb the outbreak at the western Kentucky prison, inmates were divided into housing units based on their health status.
“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,” Beshear said during his daily coronavirus briefing.
Randy White, who has served as acting commissioner since February, will resume his role as deputy commissioner overseeing primarily the state’s prisons, Beshear's office said in a release.