Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Jack Kavanagh, Director of the Department of Corrections, is retiring after 18 years of service to Howard County, and more than four decades of public service in the correctional field. Kavanagh has worked for Howard County since 2003 and has served as the Director of the Department of Corrections since 2008.

“Jack is an outstanding public servant, and his expertise and thoughtful approach will be missed in Howard County,” said Ball. “Four decades of hands on correctional experience, and numerous awards, speak to Jack’s character and his commitment to ensuring a safe and engaged community in Howard County and beyond. Jack was dedicated to making sure that each inmate would not return to our jail after serving their time and was committed to providing educational opportunities to assist in their re-entry and reduce recidivism. We’re wishing him the best on his retirement, it is well-deserved.”

Jack Kavanagh was appointed as Director for the Howard County Department of Corrections in March 2008. Kavanagh served as Deputy Director from January 2003 until his appointment as Director. He also spent 24 years with the State of Maryland Division of Correction, beginning in May of 1979. While employed with the Division of Correction, he held numerous positions to include Assistant Warden, Warden, Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. Kavanagh received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore.

“I am most grateful for having the opportunity to serve as Director the past 13 years,” said Kavanagh. “The staff at the Department are some of the finest employees I have ever encountered, and I will miss them. The support of the County Executives that I have served, as well as the support of Chief Administrative Officer, Lonnie Robbins, is greatly appreciated. They have allowed the agency to continue developing the important programs that positively impact the lives of those incarcerated here.”

Kavanagh graduated from the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections Executive Excellence Program in January 2001 and is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Howard County. In 2001, Kavanagh was awarded certification from the American Correctional Association as a Certified Corrections Executive. In August of 2010, he was awarded the Maryland Bar Association Paul J. Davis Award. Kavanagh is also a member of the Howard County Board to Promote Self Sufficiency, the Local Behavioral Health Advisory Board, and the Opioid Crisis Community Council.

“Jack has been a tremendous asset to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office over the years,” said Sheriff Marcus Harris. “He has always made himself personally available to assist our Office with any questions or issues that may have arisen. Jack has been a wealth of knowledge to me personally and I speak for the entire Sheriff’s Office when I say you will be greatly missed. Congratulations Jack on your retirement!”

“It has truly been a privilege and honor to work collaboratively with Jack Kavanagh these last few years,” said Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson. “His forty-plus years in corrections has made a lasting impact, and one that has improved Howard County for the better. We will miss your wisdom and experience, but most of all, we will miss your exemplary leadership and tireless efforts. You are a consummate professional, diligent law enforcement partner, and a good friend. My best wishes on your retirement. May it be long, healthy and happy!”

In 2019, the Howard County Department of Corrections Reentry Program received a National Association of Counites (NACo) award for their program to provide housing and residential support that offers stability, reliability, and consistent responsibility for those who are working through the obstacles created by past criminal convictions. The effort assists in reintegration and allows returning residents to be positive contributors to their own community.

“Corrections is a rough game and Jack Kavanagh had to make hard decisions often times with limited resources and restricted budgets,” shared the Membership of AFSCME Local 3080. “Local 3080 was fortunate to have Jack as the director for the past 12 years. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we respected him and appreciated his willingness to listen to our concerns before instituting many of his policies and employment decisions. He treated employees fairly and had a genuine concern for their well-being and their safety while working diligently to maintain security, custody, and control of the inmate population. Thank you, Mr. Kavanagh, we wish you nothing but the best for your well-deserved retirement.”

“On behalf of the Maryland Criminal Justice Association (MCJA) membership, I extend the sincerest congratulations on the occasion of your retirement,” said President of the Maryland Criminal Justice Association Melinda Grenier. “Your participation and support over many years has been appreciated.  You are a valued and well-respected member of the Corrections community and will be sorely missed. Your commitment to the profession has been inspiring. It has been a privilege to work with you. Wishing you success and happiness in retirement!”

“Jack’s vast knowledge and experience of corrections was a vital resource to his colleagues across the state and will surely be missed,” said Major TD Reece, President of the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association. “He is a great friend to all in corrections, admired and respected, an absolute pillar within the corrections professions in Maryland. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Kavanagh has led and supported many enrichment programs at the Howard County Detention Center, including Seeds of Change operated by Howard EcoWorks. The program provides education and vocational training to detention center inmates to grow and maintain a native plant nursery.

“We need more people like Jack in leadership positions who are not afraid to take a chance and try new things to make our communities better and stronger,” said Lori Lilly, Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks. “With Jack’s strong support, we developed the Seeds of Change program at the detention center, a truly unique program that offers inmates an on-site opportunity to engage in meaningful outside gardening activities while also building skills, reducing their time in jail and providing a positive rehabilitative experience in our plant nursery. We at EcoWorks will miss Jack and his leadership in the County Government and wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”

“Simply put, Jack Kavanagh is a great man and a wonderful colleague in the corrections profession,” said Baltimore County Department of Corrections Director Gail Watts. “Jack is going to be truly missed but never forgotten; he will always be a part of the corrections family”

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Scott E

Note – photos courtesy of Howard County Government