Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews has appointed a 22-year department veteran to lead the jail and its 232 employees.
Col. Anthony Prignano started work as the new director of Detention Services for the Durham County Detention Facility on Monday.
“Col. Prignano is working with an excellent staff that will benefit from his experience, training and support,” Andrews said in a news release. “I’ve charged Col. Prignano with the daily assignment of making the detention facility better than it was the day before.”
Prignano, 49, succeeds Lt. Col. Natalie Perkins, who retired in January after joining the Sheriff’s Office in 1987 and running the jail since 2006.
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Prignano was among four internal applicants screened by an independent consultant, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tamara Gibbs. The search committee had corrections experts, former jailers and community members. The position was posted internally because Andrews believed he had qualified applicants within the agency, Gibbs said.
“I’m eager to return to the place where I got my start at the Sheriff’s Office,” Prignano said in the release. “Providing detention services is a great responsibility and an honorable profession.”
The appointment comes as public protests have criticized the Sheriff’s Office’s initiating video visitation, along with other ongoing concerns about food, health care and deaths at the jail, including the March 23 suicide of a 17-year-old young woman charged with murder.
Inmate advocacy group the Inside-Outside Alliance has been protesting jail conditions for more than two years. Those protests helped lead to a critical report by the Human Relations Commission, a city advisory board, that made 10 recommendations it says will improve the county jail and help the public know what goes on there.
Prignano joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1995 as a detention officer and quickly rose to several supervisory and management positions within the agency, the news release states. He served in the U. S. Army and the Marine Corps.
His accomplishments with the agency include developing and training canine teams for the Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division. He was also instrumental in the expansion of the Hazardous Devices Unit where he served as the unit’s commander and initiated a community-policing strategy while serving as captain of the Animal Services Division.