Kirsten Thomas has been appointed as the new warden of the Louisiana Department of Corrections Institute for Women in St. Gabriel, according to The Associated Press.
Thomas is only the second woman to be appointed warden of the facility and only the third in Louisiana’s history.
“Her selection comes as the corrections department pushes to create a more diverse and inclusive required leadership team in an industry historically dominated by White men,” the AP wrote.
Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc told the AP, “Warden Thomas brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position.” He also said her background aligns with “ongoing efforts to develop a gender-responsive correctional program tailored to the unique needs of females in the criminal justice system.”
Thomas was once the chief of security at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. She was also a mental health director at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, according to the AP.
Women represent 5% of the Louisiana state prison population according to state data.
The women at the St. Gabriel prison are currently displaced temporarily due to flooding in the Baton Rouge area in 2016.
Construction damage on the flooded facility is expected to cost about $100 million, according to corrections officials. Work on that facility is expected to begin this year.