Embattled Correction Commissioner Schofield resigns

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield will leave the administration at the end of June to join GEO Group in Florida as executive vice president for continuum of care.

Schofield, 55, has led the department since the start of the administration in 2011 and has been an integral voice in shaping the governor’s public safety agenda during the administration. He has served on the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet since its inception, most recently helping to shape the Public Safety Act of 2016, which makes smarter use of prison bed space, among other important safety objectives.

“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.”

The state’s corrections system is comprised of 14 prisons, collectively housing approximately 21,000 offenders. The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has more than 6,500 employees and supervises 79,000 offenders on probation, parole or community corrections.

“I am thankful for the ability to serve under Gov. Haslam’s leadership and am proud of the work that we accomplished together,” Schofield said. “I am especially proud of the hard work the more than six thousand correctional professionals have put into making the Tennessee Department of Correction one of the best in the nation.”

The mission of the department was expanded in 2012 to include providing effective community supervision of adult offenders, transferring certain functions from the Board of Parole to the department.

Before becoming TDOC commissioner, Schofield was an assistant commissioner of Corrections in Georgia. A native Georgian, he 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.

UPDATE/Note: In an unusual move, the governor’s office, after sending out the above, also sent media the governor’s response to a reporter’s question later in the day. The question was whether Schofield’s departure had anything to do with the criticism he has faced. The answer:

“Absolutely not. I want to be as clear as I can: 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.”