Joe Schmidt was named Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Corrections by Governor Sarah Palin in December, 2006 and was confirmed during the following legislative session. As commissioner, Schmidt oversaw the design work, funding, groundbreaking and opening of the 1,536-bed Goose Creek Correctional Center and the return of prisoners housed out of state. Focusing on security, population management, classification and evidence-based programming, the department, under the Commissioner's leadership, has begun a broad initiative to reduce recidivism in Alaska.
Before accepting the position of Commissioner, Schmidt was Superintendent of the Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm where he oversaw a number of innovative programs as well as the facility's first million-pound harvest. Previously he led the effort to unify the Cook Inlet Pretrial Facility and the Anchorage Jail into the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
Joe moved with his family from the Midwest to the Mat-Su Valley in 1974 and graduated from Wasilla High School in 1984, where he played hockey. After completing an associate's degree in criminal justice at the University of Alaska Anchorage Mat-Su campus he began his criminal justice career on the staff of the Glenwood Center half-way house. He began work with the Department of Corrections in 1988 as a Correctional Officer II at Spring Creek Correctional Center, and later worked at Hiland Mountain and Meadow Creek Correctional Centers, the Sixth Avenue Jail and Mat Su Pretrial Facility.
From a position in booking, Schmidt was promoted to Sergeant at the Mat-Su Pretrial and Assistant Superintendent at Palmer Correctional Center. In 2002 Schmidt was named Superintendent at Cook Inlet Pretrial which merged to form the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
Joe and his wife Sandra were married in 1988 and they have two daughters.
Leslie is a 35 year Alaska resident, moving to Alaska from Northern Michigan. Houston began her State of Alaska administrative career in 1977; she joined Corrections as the Director of Administrative Services in May, 2008, prior to DOC Houston worked in six other departments and has served eight Governors.
Houston is stationed in the Capital City of Juneau and will continue to oversee the department’s administrative functions—budget, audit, capital improvement projects, information technology, and legislative functions; assumes oversight on Inmate Health Care and Compliance Standards and a newly formed focus is introduced for the Performance Standards of DOC.
Houston holds a Bachelors of Science in Education with an emphasis on Early Childhood and Brain Development. She is an accomplished blue water sailor and raised her two daughters on a 37 foot sailboat; Houston took a four year sabbatical and sailed from Alaska to South America and the Caribbean (and back!).
Ronald Taylor began his career with the State of Alaska in 1990, as an Adult Probation Officer and later Program Manager for the Alaska Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) in the Department of Health & Social Services.
In 2008, he joined the Department of Corrections as the Executive Director of the Alaska Board of Parole and subsequently became the Director for the Division of Probation & Parole. In this role, he focused his attention on implementing evidence based practices designed to improve community supervision outcomes by focusing on probationer/parolee success. As Deputy Commissioner of Reentry and Population Management, he will expand these efforts by ensuring a seamless transition from institution to probation/parole supervision and ultimately the community. He will also oversee inmate institutional habilitative programs, Chaplaincy Services, and serves as liaison to the criminal justice system.
Ron is a graduate from the University of Florida, and a passionate Gator fan!