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Warden Retires from Corrections Creating a Legacy for Criminal Justice

​​Larry Chandler served the commonwealth for 33 years, creating a safer, better Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2022) – After 33 years of service to Kentucky's criminal justice system, Larry Chandler, a warden with the Department of Corrections (DOC), announces his retirement. Warden Chandler is the only warden to

 serve at the helm of six Kentucky prisons.

“Warden Chandler is an exemplary public servant. His dedication, loyalty and

 knowledge enhanced public safety throughout our commonwealth," Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Thank you, Mr. Chandler, for creating safer communities, a stronger criminal justice system and leading corrections into the future."

Warden Chandler originally retired from DOC in 2008 after serving as warden of Kentucky State Reformatory, Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, Bell County Forestry Camp and Green River Correctional Complex. In 2020, he came out of retirement to serve as the first warden of Southeast State Correctional Complex in Wheelwright when the prison opened as a state-run facility. Then, in August 2021, he was named warden of Little Sandy Correctional Complex (LSCC) in Elliott County, a facility he designed in 2005.

“With the staff shortages and the pandemic battles over the last three years, wardens now have both a challenge and an opportunity to create a new normal for corrections," said Warden Chandler. “The average sentence in Kentucky is 13 years and how we manage those inmates while they are incarcerated has a direct impact on public safety."

Expansion of Little Sandy Correctional Complex

Over the past year, Warden Chandler has played a critical role in the early design stages for the expansion of LSCC which will result in an additional 816 medium-security beds. Upon completion, LSCC will be the second largest state prison in the commonwealth housing 1,866 inmates.

“The detailed knowledge Larry Chandler had regarding the original design and operation of LSCC made him the perfect choice to lead the prison," said DOC Commissioner Cookie Crews. “We drew on that expertise over the past year as we started to plan for the prison's expansion. We appreciate his willingness to return to DOC and fill a gap in seasoned leadership. He will be sorely missed."

The expansion of LSCC will include two additional inmate housing units. Each two-story unit will mirror existing housing units with an open dorm concept. Included in the expansion will be electronic security measures, perimeter detection and camera system upgrades.

“As the world changes and adapts so must our criminal justice system," Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey stated. “Warden Chandler is a trailblazer who has created the textbook for corrections to advance into the future. It is because of his leadership, design concept, mentorship and service to our commonwealth that public safety has been heightened. We owe him a debt of gratitude."

The 2022-2023 fiscal year state budget includes $114.3 million for the expansion. Upon completion, DOC plans to hire an additional 164 employees at LSCC, including security and program staff.

Little Sandy Correctional Complex Announces New Warden

Shawn McKenzie, a 26-year veteran of DOC has been named warden of LSCC and is now responsible for the safety and security of 976 inmates there. Warden McKenzie has served in a wide array of positions in DOC, most recently as deputy warden at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex. He will oversee the construction of LSCC's expansion, which is expected to begin at the end of September.

Beshear-Coleman Administration Commitment to Reducing Recidivism

DOC is currently hiring correctional officers to help fill both full and part-time positions available at 13 state prisons across the commonwealth. To help attract and retain officers, in Feb. 2022, the Governor approved an extra $2.13 an hour for all DOC employees assigned to work between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. at a state prison. An extra $2 an hour was also added in locality premium for prison employees working a designated security position. These changes brough the starting hourly wage to $20 an hour for a correctional officer working between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Additionally, in Dec. 2021, the Governor approved a 10% pay increase for all security staff of Kentucky state prisons. Visit the DOC website for more information on applying for a job at corrections.

The Beshear-Coleman administration is also working to prevent re-incarceration through a statewide project that provides free transportation to former inmates so they can access substance abuse recovery facilities, medical appointments, job interviews, educational classes, probation and parole meetings and employment. DOC is partnering with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to serve nearly 50,000 Kentuckians, currently under the supervision of probation or parole..

In Sept. 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that through a collaborative effort between state government, health care and the business community, the commonwealth launched a new initiative to help employers address addiction, boost hiring and retention and support employees in the workplace. The Kentucky Transformational Employment Program is the result of legislation signed into law by the Governor following the passage of Senate Bill 191 in 2020.

In April 2021, the Governor signed House Bill 497 to remove barriers to reentry by tasking DOC with issuing certificates of employability to those who successfully complete programs while incarcerated. Additionally, the bill incentivizes employers by providing liability protections and further encourages other important reentry supports such as state identification and increased access to health care for those released from incarceration. For a statement from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on HB 497, click here.

To assist with obtaining employment, in 2021 DOC began a project in collaboration with KYTC to ensure released inmates are able to return to their local communities with needed identification paperwork. This includes a birth certificate, social security card and state identification card. These items allow the individuals to apply for employment day one after being released from prison. 

On his third day in office, Gov. Beshear restored voting rights to Kentuckians who had completed their sentences for nonviolent offenses. As of August 2022, the Governor has restored voting rights to more than 186,000 Kentuckians. This ensures that not only are second chances given, but that all Kentuckians are equal in the commonwealth. Those who wish to apply to have their voting rights reinstated can apply here.​