Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office announced that the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction would leave his post at the end of June . After five years leading the state’s 14 prisons, Derrick Schofield — a Haslam appointee — leaves the prison system in the lurch.
Schofield is leaving at the end of June to take a job as executive vice president in Florida for continuum of care for GEO Group, a for-profit prison company formerly known as Wackenhut. GEO Group is one of the country’s largest for-profit prison corporations — second to Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. And like CCA, it has been at the center of controversy regarding how its prisons are run.
Through all of TDOC’s troubles, Haslam has never waned in his support of Schofield. When Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said last fall that the legislature should look at making TDOC answer questions and complaints raised by staff, inmates and inmate family members, Haslam basically waved the idea away.
“Tennessee has been extremely fortunate to have someone of Derrick’s caliber as commissioner of the Department of Correction,” Haslam said. “I am personally grateful for Derrick’s professional approach and personal integrity as he worked to reduce recidivism, improve offender outcomes and assure a safe and secure environment in our corrections system.”
He continued, “Derrick Schofield has been a great commissioner of correction. He got a wonderful job offer. I begged him to stay. It’s a really good offer that he thinks is the right thing for him. But I couldn’t be more grateful for the work he’s done here, and I will miss him.”
Tennessee’s corrections system is comprised of 14 prisons and house around 21,000 offenders.
Before becoming TDOC commissioner, Schofield was an assistant commissioner of Corrections in Georgia.
He also spent eight years with the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of Captain, and has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University.
Schofield’s last day will be June 20. He will be replaced by Tony Parker, 52, a veteran Tennessee prison official. Parker’s new role becomes effective on this Sunday.