WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) will soon be under the leadership of a former Southwest Virginia judge.

A release from VADOC states that Director Harold W. Clarke has notified Gov. Glenn Youngkin of his decision to retire from the position after decades of public service in the corrections field.

Judge Chadwick Dotson was appointed by Youngkin to become the department’s new director starting Friday, Sept. 8. Dotson currently serves as the chair of the Virginia Parole Board.

Prior to leading the parole board, Dotson was the dean of students and a distinguished professor of law at Appalachian School of Law, the release states. He also served in the past as chief judge of the 30th Judicial District, which encapsulates Lee, Scott and Wise counties, as well as the City of Norton.

Replacing Dotson on the state parole board will be Judge Patricia West, according to Youngkin’s office. The governor provided the following statement on both Dotson and West’s appointments:

“Under previous administrations, the parole board failed to uphold the law and undermined the confidence of our citizens. While there is more work to be done, I am proud of Chairman Dotson for implementing changes to consider victims and their families, increase transparency, and follow the law. As the parole board welcomes Judge Patricia West to succeed Chairman Dotson, I’m confident our mission to restore common sense and stand up for victims’ rights will continue. I appreciate Chairman Dotson’s desire to continue serving Virginians as the head of the Department of Corrections, I’m grateful for the service of Director Clarke and his years leading Virginia’s largest government agency. With more than 11,000 employees, the Department of Corrections plays a critical role in the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Dotson said in a statement provided by the governor’s office that he was proud of the work done during his time on the parole board and said he is eager to contribute to the public safety of the Commonwealth in his new role.

“I will work every day to support DOC’s front-line personnel, the dedicated correctional officers and the talented men and women who supervise offenders in our communities, and will focus efforts on addressing the ongoing staffing shortages faced by corrections systems across the country,” Dotson said. “We will be laser-focused on ridding our prisons of drugs, especially deadly fentanyl. But most of all, I want to ensure that our department never loses sight of our overriding purpose: public safety. After all, as Governor Youngkin has said, no Virginian should have to worry about being safe in their home or feel unprotected in their community.”

Clarke has served as VADOC director since 2010, and his 13 years in the role make him the longest-serving director in VADOC history.