Amazon’s Newest Training Exec Used to Be a Private Prison Manager

Dayna Howard was a manager at one of the United States' largest private prison companies. Now, she runs Amazon's warehouse training program.
Jules Roscoe
New York, US
an Amazon warehouse
Image Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

An ex-private prison manager was recently promoted to be a director of some of Amazon's worker training programs.

Dayna Howard now holds the title of "Director, Learning and Development – Consumer" after a recent promotion at Amazon, according to her LinkedIn page. Learning and Development is what Amazon calls employee training. Earlier in her career, Howard was a quality assurance manager for the Corrections Corp. of America between 2000 and 2005. The company, now known as CoreCivic, is one of the largest private prison companies in the U.S. and runs 65 state and federal detention facilities. Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, pointed out the promotion in his newsletter this week. 

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In her role at CoreCivic, Howard said on LinkedIn that she coordinated facility audits both internally and externally, and developed a “Receiving and Discharge Training program” which “re-vamped” the inmate admission process and resulted in a 20% reduction in inmate processing time. 

Howard has worked at Amazon since 2012. Amazon says that Learning and Development teams are responsible for “improving the everyday experience of our associates. We design and deliver learning programs to guide and support employees' career paths inside Amazon, and implement improvements that make a real difference for both our workers and our customers.”

Howard’s career at Amazon included a three-year stint in loss prevention. Amazon has been particularly focused on making sure workers don’t steal packages from the warehouse floor—a current job posting for the loss prevention team includes facilitating "security screening process of all people exiting the facility." Amazon has also placed a huge emphasis on reducing package theft. Over the past few years, it has worked with police to set up sting operations to catch package thieves, which have largely not worked. Amazon also has thousands of partnerships with police departments as part of its Ring doorbell surveillance cameras; many Ring owners explicitly have these cameras to deter package thieves.

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Amazon markets its loss prevention team as something designed to protect “people, products, and information at each site and in the supply chain.” The goal of the team is to ensure that “security is front of mind and risk is eliminated.”

A Loss Prevention manager at Amazon during Howard's tenure identified as "Katie" in a promotional video from 2019 says, “We do a lot of critical incident management, we do investigations, we do audits.” 

GeekWire first reported news of Howard’s promotion on Sept. 12, which is due to the resignation of Heather MacDougall, the company’s vice president of Global Health and Safety. Amazon veteran Rebecca Gansert—who, according to her LinkedIn page, also worked in Loss Prevention for around three years—will take her place. Howard will join Gansert’s team.

Amazon has for years come under scrutiny for how it treats its workers. Motherboard has extensively reported on the unsafe working conditions inside its warehouses.