Originally created 02/24/02

Leader brings change to jail



AIKEN - John Rowley will pack his car Friday and drive 12 hours south to start a new job and a new life.

For the 52-year-old, it is time to do what he loves- lead a corrections facility - away from the cold winters of his home state, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Rowley was chosen from a 75-person pool to direct the jail on Hampton Avenue and oversee the transition to the new Doris C. Gravat corrections facility on Wire Road.

"I think he has the kind of demeanor and leadership skills I felt was important to be a member of this team that we're building here," County Administrator Clay Killian said.

During his 24 years in Pennsylvania corrections, Mr. Rowley watched many new "direct supervision" jails spring up to replace linear-style jails. In the next few months, he will help Aiken make the change.

"I feel real comfortable about leading that transition. I'm more excited than anything else," Mr. Rowley said.

Moving 250 inmates from one facility to another is not easy, he said.

"It's not going to be just loading everybody up into several secure buses and busing them over and assigning cells," Mr. Rowley said. "If you've got a new system where you can't transfer data, each inmate has to be processed into the new system; obviously that takes time."

Inheriting a jail well over double its capacity level does not scare Mr. Rowley.

"I've been in that environment before. Almost any institution I've been in has had double bunking, or two men to each cell, or two women, and running at pretty full capacity," he said.

This will be Mr. Rowley's sixth move to a new institution.

"I'm quite excited. Usually the moves within (Pennsylvania) really didn't change my lifestyle much at all. But I'm anxious to discover what there is to be offered in South Carolina, the differences in the cultures, as subtle as they may be," Mr. Rowley said.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.