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Gov. Scott's surprise pick to run prisons: Julie Jones

Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday will appoint a new chief of the troubled Florida prison system: Julie Jones, the former executive director of the state highway safety agency.

JonesJones, 57, will be the first woman to head the Department of Corrections in the agency's history. Her appointment comes at a time when the agency has been wracked by revelations of inmate deaths, abuses by correctional officers and a chronic budget deficit.

Jones retired last April after five years at the helm of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. She has extensive law enforcement experience but has no background in prisons.

Scott issued a statement that said: "Julie Jones has had a distinguished career working with our state’s law enforcement community for over thirty years.  It is evident through her work across state government that she is a true reformer who is laser-focused on ensuring accountability and transparency.  She led the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for nearly five years with integrity and under her leadership, she managed a complete restructuring of the agency that led to more oversight.  She also secured Cabinet approval for a performance plan to ensure the agency was running efficiently while holding employees accountable.

"Florida’s recidivism rate continues to decline and I know she will be committed to making sure it drops even further and making much needed reforms with the current system. I am confident Julie will be an effective leader at DOC and make sure the agency is run with accountability and integrity,” Scott's statement said.