In late June the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed Dr. Laurel R. Harry as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC). Harry has been serving as Acting Secretary since her initial appointment by Governor Josh Shapiro in January 2023.
A 24-year veteran of the department, she becomes the first woman to lead the agency after receiving unanimous support from the Pennsylvania Senate.
As Secretary, Dr. Harry will continue to lead the DOC’s mission to reduce criminal behavior in Pennsylvania by providing the incarcerated population individualized treatment and educational opportunities that promote accountability and positive change, as well as building stronger communities through successful parole supervision and reintegration.
“It is an honor to work alongside the more than 17,000 men and women of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections whose hard work and dedication have built our agency into a recognized leader in the field of corrections,” said Secretary Harry. “All Pennsylvanians deserve to be safe and feel safe in their communities, and I look forward to collaborating with the team Governor Shapiro has assembled to achieve that goal.”
Harry began her DOC career in 1999 as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist. She served in a variety of roles while moving up the ranks, including drug and alcohol treatment specialist supervisor, unit manager, deputy superintendent, superintendent of SCI Camp Hill for 10 years, and most recently, acting western region deputy secretary. She was also a member of the department’s Western Region Hostage Negotiation Team.
Harry graduated from the Criminal Justice Executive Leadership Program in 2008 and the Leadership Development Institute in 2010. She was recognized by the PA Prison Wardens Association as the 2019 Warden of the Year. She earned her doctorate in criminal justice at California University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a master’s degree in counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Virginia University.