You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Snyder picks University of Michigan grad to run state Department of Corrections

By Ryan J. Stanton

Gov. Rick Snyder today tapped Jackson County Sheriff Dan Heyns, a University of Michigan graduate, to serve as director of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Heyns begins his duties on June 1.

Heyns, a Republican, was a vocal opponent of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's actions to release more nonviolent prisoners eligible for parole.


Rick Snyder

The Department of Corrections accounts for about a quarter of the state’s general fund budget, with 34 prison facilities with a population of 43,900 inmates. Heyns is expected to study ways the department can rein in spending while keeping the public safe.

“Sheriff Heyns has exactly the type of skills we were looking for in a corrections director,” Snyder said in a statement. “His experience managing the sheriff’s department, operating a jail operation and his keen understanding of how local jurisdictions can work cooperatively with our state correctional facilities make him an excellent choice for director of corrections.”

Heyns earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from U-M in 1973 and a master’s in criminal justice, with a correctional administration focus, from Michigan State University in 1977. He obtained his state police officer certification in 1981.

Heyns has served as Jackson County sheriff since 2003 where he is responsible for a $12.5 million budget and a 450-bed jail operation. He previously served as Jackson County undersheriff and was a captain in the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

After June 1, acting MDOC Director Dick McKeon will stay on at the department to serve as special adviser to Heyns. Snyder said McKeon's expertise has been crucial as the department has moved forward with finding efficiencies over the last four months.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

See, having Rick Snyder the U of M's Commencement Speaker is paying off already. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Snyder should be getting speech lessons from the U of M, his voice is awful. Take a letter from the movie - The King's Speech - get some voice training.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

This is SNYDER'S SCORCHED MICHIGAN designed to punish the state for making him obey the law or facilitate a return the executive to someone that will obey the law. If you cross Snyder, the beauty of a constitutional Michigan will pay for it with a death of a thousand cuts. If you wish to thrive in a nation of men, not laws instead of precedent in the vica versa, come to The University of Michigan (arguendo). Doors will open for you like never before. The pass word: hegemony. U of M apparently will teach you well. One alumni pardoned an established felonious President of The United States of America, rather then uphold his oath to protect and defend constitutional sovereignty. This, after hiring a prosecutable felon as the youngest to date Presidential Chief of Staff, Richard Cheney. hink were we would be if that hire never happened. No whitewashing of Iran Contra. Neither Gulf invasion/ocupation. No manhatten incident in September 2001. Days after this hire they signed FERPA which allowed heads of campus to opt out of comporting with the constitutional approach to US citizenry once they step foot on the campuses of these men. How ominous was that? Now this rickety alumni, Snyder, denies entire populations the right to self-determination within hours of his ONLY public "service". All doors have been since closed for anyone not towing the counter-republican line. Thanks to The University of Michigan, et. al. Michigan government is currently the best money can buy. Notice the hegemony nexus. Just the leaders and best down there at The University of Michigan (arguendo).

Moscow On The Huron

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

Nothing. Wait a few comments and there will be a union-busting or destroying-the-middle-class rant as well.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

What, exactly, does this rant have to do with Mr Snyder's appointment of Mr Heyns? You venture quite far afield indeed, bringing up Ford's pardon of Nixon. Perhaps you may have forgotten all those nice chaps that Mr Clinton pardoned hours before he left office. Nevermind. I suppose you guys will figure out some way to lay blame for our prison population at Mr Snyder's door. Give it a rest.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

I would venture to say that if you keep releasing prisoners on parole instead of having them serve their entire sentence, they may find that the 3 hots and a cot may not be so bad and will venture back into a similar line of work again. Prison should be a miserable place to deter future reservations.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

If that worked prisons would be out of business. Didn't happen. So much for that plan.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Hope to hear how he plans to decrease expenses once he stops releasing non-violent offenders. Guess they won't plan on closing a prison this year after all--too many mouths to feed.

say it plain

Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Is this guy's most relevant feature *really* that he graduated from UM?! Isn't he more a MSU guy, anyway, given that his relevant degrees (the criminal justice one) was from there? Are we supposed to be happy about this if we're UM alum? Like better chance of getting prison guard gigs? Is there a running list of all the UM alum Snyder has 'bout the drivers taking him to and from Lansing, maize and blue too?!


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Alan, thanks for the information. As the extremists in that party operate play on fear...a person who is released from a prison is just another in their long list of: things to scare citizens about.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

Yes, Cinnabar. Playing on fear. That's one person. Playing tough on crime is costing taxpayers fortune....and built the largest industry in America...the prison industry. It's self feeding...treat humans like animals and some of them will certainly become animals. Thus Warden JOhnny Bob will always have business....and the strong prison CO union is loving it.


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Playing on fear, is this what your talking about Cash. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

I find it odd that someone calling themselves a Republican is against releasing more non-violent offenders. Wouldn't this reduce the cost of keeping them on our dime? I wonder what the disagreement was beween him and the former Governor. Was it what types of offenses in the non-violent catagory?


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

alan, Thanks for providing us with what for most of us are our worst fears. Egad, who elected this Governerd?


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

As, unfortunately, someone who was stuck living in that cesspool called Jackson County for some years due to marriage and employment I am appalled that Mr. Heyns could be offered a position such as this. His social and political views are just right of Mussolini. His disagreement with Ms. Granholm was not based on any fundamental disagreement over issues, but rather with the fact that she identified herself as democrat which made her the enemy and anything she said wrong. Look for political name calling and bible thumping in Lansing.