Jim Henry tours state promoting prison policy

Just under two weeks into his new job duties, Tennessee’s Deputy Gov. Jim Henry is traveling across the state to meet with community leaders and state officials, reports the Elizabethton Star. One topic is recent changes within the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

On Friday, the tour brought Henry and Assistant Commissioner of Corrections Tony Parker to Northeast Tennessee, where the pair toured TDOC’s Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City and met with employees there. They also met with local legislators to discuss concerns and complaints they had heard regarding recent changes within the TDOC.

“There have been some concerns about some of the changes,” said Henry, who also serves as the Chief of Staff for Gov. Bill Haslam. “We are trying to go and look at the complaints to see if we can work through them.”

…While there have been some positive responses to the change, there have been some complaints as well, Henry and Parker said.

“When anything changes, there are going to be a certain number of complaints and we want to be on top of that and looking into them,” Henry said. “The 28 days is not new. The Tennessee Highway Patrol uses it and a lot of other states use it as well.”

…While most of the concerns heard by Henry and Parker on the eastern side of the state have dealt with the scheduling changes, it is a different story in the western part of the state, where many of the complaints surrounded vacant positions and understaffing in the correctional facilities. B

But concerns and complaints aren’t all the pair are hearing as they travel the state. “We’re hearing a lot of positives as well, especially about our public works programs” Henry said.

In the public works programs, inmate work crews from the correctional facilities provide free labor to government agencies in a variety of tasks and skilled labor. The program not only helps local governments save money, it also teaches the inmates skills they can use once they get out of prison to gain employment and hopefully become productive citizens, Henry said.