Governor Bentley Announces New Department of Corrections Commissioner

MONTGOMERY–Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced Colonel Jefferson S. Dunn will become the new commissioner at the Alabama Department of Corrections upon his retirement from the United States Air Force in March.

Dunn, a native of Alabama, currently serves as commander of the Thomas Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Maxwell Air Force Base. He graduated from Birmingham Southern College in 1986 with a degree in English and earned his military commission through ROTC. He has held various flying assignments in bombers, airlift and undergraduate pilot training. He has served on the Air Staff, at U.S. European Command Headquarters and for the Office of the Secretary of the Defense. Colonel Dunn has held various leadership roles during his twenty-eight year military career.

“Colonel Jeff Dunn is a proven leader with a strong record of military service,” Governor Bentley said. “He brings a unique experience to the Department of Corrections, and I look forward to Colonel Dunn joining my team to continue the prison reforms we have begun and make the department stronger for the inmates and staff.”

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve as the next Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, and I thank Governor Bentley for his support and confidence in me,” Colonel Jeff Dunn said. “I look forward to building on the progress Commissioner Thomas and his team have made to improve the department, support prison reform, and better serve the citizens of Alabama.”

Additionally, Governor Bentley announced Billy Sharp will serve as Interim Commissioner until March. Sharp worked as an investigator, a chief investigator and field agent over a span of 31 years at the Alabama Criminal Justice Center, where he oversaw the FBI’s National Crime Information Center system. He served as a volunteer instructor with the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission for 37 years at the Tuscaloosa Academy. Governor Bentley appointed Sharp as Tuscaloosa County Sheriff in 2013.  He left the department in January of 2015 when current sheriff, Ron Abernathy, assumed the office.

Current Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas resigned effective Tuesday and began the process for retirement. Thomas has spent his career working in corrections, rising through the ranks as a Correctional Officer, Correctional Sergeant, and Classification Specialist at a maximum security facility. He served as the department’s General Counsel before Governor Bentley asked him to lead the department as Commissioner in 2011. Thomas will retire after thirty-one years of service to the Department of Corrections.

Governor Bentley praised Kim Thomas’ dedication to the Department of Corrections.

“Kim Thomas has been a loyal member of my team, and has devoted his career to serving the department. I appreciate Kim’s service to the Alabama Department of Corrections, and I know he will work with Colonel Dunn and Billy Sharp on a smooth transition. I wish him all the best in retirement,” Governor Bentley said.

“It has been honor to work for the Alabama Department of Corrections for thirty-one years in a profession that I love and respect.  We have made great strides in the department in the last four years, and that is a testament to the hardworking men and women in the department. I will look forward to retirement and future opportunities in corrections,” Kim Thomas said.