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Deputy commissioner of Maine corrections department will soon leave for top job in Arizona

Maine's deputy corrections commissioner has accepted a job as director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry.

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Maine Department of Corrections
Maine’s deputy commissioner of corrections, Ryan Thornell, will soon lead Arizona’s Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry.

Dr. Ryan Thornell first came to Maine in 2014 as the executive director of the Board of Corrections. He later joined the Maine Department of Corrections where he worked in programming and was eventually appointed deputy commissioner.

Thornell has gained national recognition for implementing best practices in the delivery of medication for substance use disorder and for limiting the use of restrictive housing. During his tenure he also worked to improve the Maine State Prison's intensive mental health unit and to expand education. More recently he led the creation of MDOC's first resident-led debate team.

Gov. Janet Mills called Thornell a "visionary leader." And Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty said "Thornell's approach to modernizing correctional practices has improved the way the Department conducts itself."

Liberty and the department's executive leadership team will assume Thornell's responsibilities until a replacement is named.