Idaho Department of Correction’s deputy director chosen to lead department

Henry portrait
Director Henry Atencio

BOISE, December 8, 2016 – The Idaho Board of Correction has appointed the Idaho Department of Correction’s deputy director, Henry Atencio, to serve as the department’s director. Atencio will succeed Kevin Kempf who announced his resignation on Monday to assume the leadership of a national correctional organization.

“As a board, we were lucky because the department’s leadership team is packed with outstanding leaders,” says Debbie Field, chairman of the Idaho Board of Correction. “Ultimately, we decided Henry is the best choice because of his thorough knowledge of the department and his vision for the future.”

As deputy director, Atencio has overseen the day-to-day operations of IDOC and led its efforts to implement the Justice Reinvestment Initiative – a package of data-driven reforms the Idaho legislature adopted in 2014 that are aimed at increasing supervision of dangerous offenders while diverting non-violent offenders to community treatment programs. 

“Over the past two years, the Idaho Department of Correction has emerged as a national leader in the field of corrections,” Atencio said.  “I’m eager to build on that momentum by focusing on public safety while giving offenders meaningful opportunities to turn their lives around.”

Atencio has been with the department for 26 years. He started as a probation/parole officer in Payette. He went on to serve in a variety of positions including manager of the Division of Probation and Parole’s District 4 office, deputy warden at Idaho State Correctional Institution and currently as deputy director.

Atencio will formally assume IDOC’s top job on Dec. 16, 2016, the day Kempf’s resignation officially takes effect.

Kempf is leaving the department to become executive director of the Association of State Correctional Administrators. 

“Henry and I came up through the ranks together, and I know he’s more than ready for this challenge,” Kempf says. “I can say with confidence that Idaho’s correctional department will be in good hands.”

IDOC employs nearly 2,000 correctional professionals. They are responsible for the incarceration and community supervision of 22,000 felony offenders.

The three-member Idaho Board of Correction oversees IDOC and appoints its director. The Idaho Senate must ratify Atencio’s appointment during its next session which begins Jan. 9, 2017.

As director, Atencio will oversee the entirety of IDOC’s operations including its nine prisons, four community re-entry centers and seven probation and parole districts. The department has an annual budget of $220 million. 

Atencio is a native of Parma and a 1991 graduate of Boise State University. He lives in Canyon County.  He and his wife have two teenaged sons.

Story published: 12/09/2016
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