(The Center Square) – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders hired Joe Profiri as a senior advisor shortly after he was ousted as secretary for the Department of Corrections.
A spokesperson for Sanders did not immediately return message to The Center Square requesting Profiri’s salary amount. Profiri made $210,000 a year as Secretary of Corrections, according to a spokesperson for the department.
The Board of Corrections voted 5-2 Wednesday to fire Profiri a month after they suspended him with pay. A judge halted a law passed by the Legislature last year that gives the governor the authority to hire and fire the corrections secretary. The ruling cleared the way for the board to fire Profiri.
“My focus is on the safety of Arkansans and ending the failed policy of catch and early release of violent criminals in this state. Sadly, the Board of Corrections has chosen repeatedly to focus on pushing lies, political stunts, and power grabs,” Sanders said. “I’m confident that Attorney General (Tim) Griffin will successfully defend the law in court.”
The situation is about politics, according to Profiri.
“Certain members of the Board are making false and misleading claims all in an effort to hold power and keep the status quo, which for decades has created a dangerous and broken system,” Profiri said. “The work of Corrections is to keep communities safe by retaining violent, repeat offenders and adequately preparing offender populations for reintegration. We must continue to work on the Governor’s bold plan to reduce crime and keep communities safe.”
Profiri, Sanders, Griffin and law enforcement officials from across Arkansas criticized the board in news conference last November over its refusal to add nearly 500 beds.
The board said in its lawsuit that Profiri did not vet the addition of the beds, which could jeopardize the safety of staff and inmates.