"It's in my blood," said Mason W. Waters, the new warden of the Carroll County Detention Center.
"It's unusual but rewarding, and I love prison work."
Sheriff John H. Brown, in introducing the new warden Friday, said he searched statewide to find the most qualified candidate for the post, which had been open for two years.
The sheriff said he selected Mr. Waters "with pride."
Mr. Waters said he has "no immediate changes in mind" at the detention center. "You don't walk in with changes in hand."
He said he will look for ways to improve the system, which received a 100 percent rating in the most recent Standards Audit, conducted in 1992.
Mr. Waters, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the Johns Hopkins University, started his career in criminal justice in 1972 as a classification counselor at the Maryland Correctional Training Center. He retired as warden of the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown in December 1991.
Since then, he has been a member of the Drug Coalition Committee, part of the Governor's Criminal Justice Office in Annapolis.
The new warden, who lives in Frederick County near Camp David, is married to Olivia Myers, director of Junction Inc., a drug rehabilitation center next to the Carroll County Detention Center.
Mr. Waters toured the jail for the first time Thursday and praised the job done by those who have run it for more than two years.
Capt. Steve Turbin has been acting warden during that period.
Sheriff Brown said that he had been searching for the "right" warden and that many people applied for the job, which pays $46,000 a year.
He said one applicant not chosen was state police Lt. Ken Tregoning, who is running for sheriff in this year's election.