Major General (Retired) James E. Donald was first appointed to the Board in January 2009 following more than five years serving as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections. In 2010, his fellow Board Members elected him Chairman of the Board, and re-elected him to a second term in 2011.
General Donald's leadership both on the Parole Board and at the Department of Corrections has resulted in both agencies becoming leaner, more efficient and more effective organizations as servants of Georgia's citizens.
During his service on the Parole Board, General Donald has focused on public safety and effective reentry for the offender population. His passion has resulted in more faith based programming and services, treatment and increased housing and job opportunities for offenders exiting the prison system to parole. Calling on his experience as prison's chief, General Donald has nurtured a necessary closer working relationship with the Department of Corrections resulting in the use of Day Reporting Centers for parolees to be referred to for treatment and program completion enabling many to remain in society rather than returning to prison.
As former Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, General Donald was the driving force behind groundbreaking transformations in one of the State’s largest departments. He oversaw the fifth largest prison system in the nation, some 200,000 felons in prison or on probation, 15,000 employees, of whom 10,000 are sworn peace officers, and an annual budget of more than $1.2 billion.
Under his leadership, General Donald led several transformational changes in the department to include the planned relocation of the Corrections' headquarters and its Training Academy to Tift Campus in Forsyth, Georgia. Accomplished in 2010, the move is estimated to save Georgia taxpayers $4 million annually. Additionally, General Donald's decisions to realign and reduce staff positions in the central office, combine many facilities and probation support functions, and transform medical support practices are estimated to have saved taxpayers over $16 million.
Most noteworthy, General Donald opened and began operating seven new 200-bed Pre-Release Centers, ten new Faith and Character-based dormitories, six new “non-resident” Day Reporting Centers, and added over 1,500 new beds for Transition Centers or work release programs.
Prior to his appointment as the Commissioner of Corrections in 2004, Mr. Donald retired as a Major General of the United States Army Forces Command. He earned the Bronze Star for his bold leadership as a Task Force Commander with the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” during Gulf War I. He also served as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific, Assistant Division Commander to the 25th Infantry Division, and Director of Operations/J3 U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii.
General Donald is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History. He earned his Master of Public Administration from the University of Missouri. He is the 2010 recipient of the Mississippi Trailblazer Award honoring his outstanding achievement in the U.S. Military and Government. General Donald was recently inducted into the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame. He is an avid supporter of his church and community activities, and serves as a member of several government and civic boards.