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D.C. Department of Corrections director Tom Faust will retire in November after serving in the position for five years, confirms Olivia Walton Dedner, communications director at the Office of the D.C. City Administrator. The Department of Corrections has not named an interim replacement but is expected to do so in the coming weeks.
Faust’s retirement comes at a pivotal moment for the Department of Corrections and D.C.’s criminal justice system as a whole. The department is preparing to assume control of the Correctional Treatment Facility after the city’s contract with the Corrections Corporation of America expires in early 2017. CTF has 1,500 beds and holds male, female, and juvenile offenders being adjudicated as adults.
No official statement about Faust’s retirement has been released, and it appears word has not spread internally either.
June Kress, executive director of the Council for Court Excellence, says Faust’s retirement comes as a surprise. “The Council for Court Excellence worked closely with Tom,” she says. “He was progressively minded [and] we thought he did a very good job.”
When asked about Faust stepping down, CTF warden Charlie Peterson says he “wasn’t aware of that.” Peterson declined to comment on the transition of CTF authority from CCA to the Department of Corrections.
The city administrator’s office insists that Faust is retiring and was not terminated.
Faust’s retirement is the latest shakeup in the D.C. criminal justice system. In August, Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced her retirement after accepting a job with the NFL. On Sept. 19, Charles Thornton was replaced as director of the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizen Affairs, which helps previously incarcerated D.C. residents reintegrate into the community.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Kress says. “The city and the mayor are facing a number of challenges in terms of hiring the right people to make sure the criminal justice system is as fair and efficient as possible. These are major leadership holes to fill … Our biggest concern is [having] leadership come in who will listen to the needs of the community.”
Emily Tatro, policy analyst at CCE, expressed both reservation and optimism about the latest personnel shakeups.
“It’s about four months from the transition [of CTF], so you obviously want to ensure that there’s good leadership so that the transition goes smoothly,” she says. “But I think it can be a turning point, too. In the appointment of the [new director], we hope that the big picture of D.C.’s criminal justice system is taken into consideration.”
The Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment before publication. Faust could not be reached for comment.