Miami-Dade Corrections Director Retiring in January, After Months of Criticism

By Willard Shepard
|  Friday, Oct 25, 2013  |  Updated 10:45 PM EDT
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After months of criticism, the man heading one of the largest corrections departments in South Florida is moving on. NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

After months of criticism, the man heading one of the largest corrections departments in South Florida is moving on. NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports.

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After months of criticism, the man heading one of the largest corrections departments in South Florida is moving on.

Community groups and even some of his own workers have been calling for Miami-Dade Corrections Director Timothy Ryan to leave. Now he will be.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez released a letter Friday afternoon saying that shortly after the new year, Ryan would no longer be running the massive department, which he has led since 2006.

Officially he's retiring in January 2014.

Ryan told NBC 6 in a phone interview that it was an honor to serve with the people in the corrections department that he’s been working with for the past seven years. He said with his job it’s not a matter of will things go wrong, but where and when they will go wrong – and you have to be able to accept that and do your best, he said.

While the mayor touted Ryan's commitment and work on Friday, the department has been under the watchful eye of the federal government. One letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to county officials recently suggested that a portion of the Pretrial Detention Facility be shut down and its inmates moved immediately because of the circumstances there. But those were just some of the problems that caused some community leaders to say Ryan had to go.

Two dangerous felons have been released by accident over the last year – and a woman was killed by one of them shortly after his release.

After Ronald Washington was released from jail in error, he went on to stab and kill his girlfriend, authorities said.

“So it appears that he was released prematurely,” Ryan said in an interview with NBC 6 South Florida in April.

A number of inmates died in corrections custody in 2013 – some in jail for minor infractions.

And an investigation is still underway into how cell doors accidentally opened at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on June 14 – forcing a man who feared that he would be killed by other inmates to jump from a second-floor balcony. Kenneth Williams said the doors have frequently malfunctioned.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman had called for the mayor to in essence step in and run the jails.

“I hope between now when he submitted his retirement letter and it becomes effective Jan. 17, the department moves forward, stays with the commitment to pursue best standards and practices, and we don’t have a lull in what I think are priorities right now,” Heyman said.

The mayor gave credit to Ryan for reducing the inmate population during his tenure and trying to give them life and educational skills.

But the federal government is keeping a close eye on the jails – and the county will have to continue to show it is making improvement to stay out of hot water with the feds.

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