On Friday, in the wake of continuing controversy, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan announced his retirement. The Director’s resignation was inevitable in light of reports of serious safety issues in the prisons.
Ryan set his final day with the Department as September 13, 2019. He was appointed as the head of Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) in 2009. He begun his career in corrections in 1977.
Ryan sent a self-serving letter to Governor Doug Ducey advising of his intention to retire:
August 9, 2019
The Honorable Douglas A Ducey
Governor, State of Arizona
1700 W. Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Governor Ducey,
After much reflection on my nearly four decades of service to the people of the Great State of Arizona, and the Arizona Department of Corrections, the time has come for me to take my leave. Effective September 13, 2019, I will retire as Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).
First and foremost, I want to thank you for allowing me to serve as Director during your administration. With over forty-one years of correctional experience, thirty-seven serving the ADC it has been my greatest honor to be Arizona’s Correction Director for over ten and one-half years. Thank you for entrusting this position to me. I am grateful for all the opportunities throughout my service to the Arizona Department of Corrections and the citizens of Arizona.
Having begun my corrections career in 1977 and served as Corrections Director for three Arizona Governors, I am most proud of your 2018 nomination and my selection for the Association of State Correctional Administrators Michael Francke Award.
The accomplishments culminating in the award include, reducing ADC’s Maximum Custody bed inventory by 1,283, including the complete elimination of maximum custody for juvenile and female inmates; corresponding with the creation of a regimen of care to provide a continuum of mental health services within the prison system including the implementation of an expanded crisis intervention and suicide prevention training program which was administered to over 8,000 staff members. Championing new and innovative approaches to better prepare inmates for life after prison were developed during my tenure as Director with your vision and support such as the Second Chance Centers (SCC). The SCC’s demonstrate best practices in government by leveraging the talents and resources of many agencies and private entities to deliver a product/program that no single agency or entity could provide alone. I am confident the progressive leadership in effective corrections practices has and will continue to result in safer communities, and recidivism reduction.
The ADC is an incredible organization of almost 9,000 employees. They, as I, are committed to their public service and safety responsibilities. Their mission is continuous and the risk they willingly take on every day is unparalleled in the criminal justice system. It has been my honor and privilege to have served with these public safety professionals.
Though there is more to be done, now is the time for me to pursue new opportunities and rededicate myself to my family who has served and sacrificed in support of me throughout my public service career.
Thank you for your steadfast leadership and confidence in me during my stewardship of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, accused Ryan of “failing to abide by court orders,” and continued “noncompliance.”
Soler called his resignation “overdue.”
Soler demanded that Ducey “conduct a public search for a new director that incorporates the feedback and participation from key stakeholders, including those directly impacted by the prison system.”