Nowak named head of Parole Division

January 27, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Nancy J. Nowak, who until yesterday headed the Governor's Office of Justice Administration, is the new director of the Division of Parole and Probation.

Ms. Nowak, 37, took over the division yesterday, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

She has been one of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's top criminal justice advisers since starting with the state in 1989.

Her appointment by Public Safety Secretary Bishop L. Robinson is subject to approval by the state Senate, but no opposition is expected in Annapolis, officials said.

Ms. Nowak replaces W. Roland Knapp, head of the agency's Bureau of Field Operations, who has been acting director since August, when Henry L. Templeton left the $68,300-a-year post.

Ms. Nowak was unavailable yesterday for comment.

"Nancy has a strong background in criminal justice, and it will serve the state well in what is a vital part of Maryland's public safety effort," said Page W. Boinest, the governor's press secretary.

Ms. Nowak will oversee an agency with 1,000 employees and a budget this year of about $43 million.

The division keeps track of 145,000 offenders on parole, probation or mandatory release from prison, including 78,000 "active cases," which require direct monitoring by agents.

Also included in that overall number are nearly 29,000 people convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence and ordered by the court into the state's Drinking Driver Monitor Program.

As Mr. Schaefer's adviser, Ms. Nowak has been involved in identifying prison alternatives for nonviolent offenders, in inmate mental-health issues and in coordinating corrections efforts between the state and local jurisdictions.

But she is probably best known for efforts to draw attention to the battered-spouse syndrome, a psychological condition in which prolonged domestic abuse provokes a victim to violence.

Ms. Nowak was key to persuading Mr. Schaefer in February 1991 to commute the prison sentences of eight women -- including seven who killed their mates -- because they were said to suffer from the syndrome.

The commutations drew criticism after it was learned that unknown to the governor, one of the women commuted had undertaken to kill her estranged husband knowing that she would profit from life insurance policies; another was charged with threatening a witness after being released on bail for killing her boyfriend; and a third could provide no corroboration of any abuse by her husband.

Stephen A. Bocian, Ms. Nowak's former deputy, has been appointed acting director of Governor's Office of Justice Administration, state officials said.

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