Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Solomon Graves as secretary of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. The governor announced the appointment during his daily COVID-19 briefing July 23.

Graves succeeds Secretary Wendy Kelley, who has overseen the department since 2015, according to a news release.

“Solomon is stepping up during a difficult time in Arkansas, but with 14 years of experience in adult corrections, he is well prepared for the task,” Hutchinson said. “In my time as governor, I have benefited from Solomon’s breadth of knowledge of the prison system and the wisdom of his counsel. He is a compassionate leader who will vigorously fulfill the state’s responsibility to assure public safety balanced with the need for rehabilitation and reentry support.”

The Board of Corrections will consider Hutchinson’s recommendation at a called meeting Tuesday, July 28.

“I am honored and humbled by the faith shown in me by Governor Hutchinson,” Graves said. “The staff and leadership of the department are some of the most dedicated public servants I have ever met. My commitment to them is that we will remain focused on public safety and successful offender reentry, while we work to meet our varied challenges and improve the efficiency of our service to Arkansans.”

Graves has served as chief of staff to Kelley for the past year. Before that, he was public information officer for the Division of Correction. From 2007 to 2016, he was board administrator for the Parole Board.

Hutchinson appointed Graves to his Transformation Advisory Board in 2017, and he served on the Governor’s Transformation Transition Team in 2019.

Graves earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a master’s in public administration from Webster University. Graves and his wife live in Little Rock. They have one son.

Kelley served as the director of the Department of Correction from January 2015 until July 2019, when Hutchinson appointed her secretary. She announced recently she’d be retiring in July.