Sununu Seeks to Hire From Within for Corrections Chief

Oct 25, 2017

Governor Chris Sununu Wednesday nominated the No. 2 person at the state Department of Corrections to run the agency.

But the nominee still has to get approved by the Executive Council.

Helen Hanks has been with the Corrections Department for 14 years. She started as a social worker, has led the medical and forensic team, and, for the past three years, has been the department’s assistant commissioner.

If Hanks is confirmed, she'll have a lot on her plate, including a long-running staffing shortage, said Donna Sytek, chairwoman of the state Parole Board.

“I fear that it will reach a point where there is a real question of safety for staff and for inmates so recruitment and retention of staff will be the job No. 1,” Sytek said.

Hanks will also have to manage the delayed opening of the newly-built women’s prison and work on keeping drugs out of the state’s prisons and jails.

But Hanks says, she's ready.

“I have been a partner on working on those issues all along so I think part of the nomination is that I’m already invested and involved in those areas so it allows for a seamless transition,” Hanks said.

Current Commissioner William Wrenn announced his resignation in August after serving for 12 years. His last day on the job is Nov. 9.