NBC News has done a lengthy critique of Department of Correction operations under Commissioner Derrick Schofield, reporting that prisoners, families, advocates and many staff have cautiously celebrated his announced resignation while Gov. Bill Haslam praised him.
Violence against officers brushed under the rug. Widespread resignations and dangerous understaffing. Exhausted officers overseeing chaotic prisons. Outsourcing to a poorly-staffed private facility. Those are the stories told by a chorus of voices that rarely speak as one — current and former staff as well as prisoners, families and advocates.
“I want to know what kind of fantasy world [Haslam’s] living in,” said Jeannie Alexander, founder of the prisoner-rights group No Exceptions and a former prison chaplain. “This is not a safe, healthy, well-functioning prison system by any stretch of the imagination.”
In a brief interview with NBC News last week, Schofield said he was proud of the system he built. He’s leaving to become a vice president at the GEO Group, one of the country’s largest private corrections companies.
“I look back and there is nothing I would have done differently,” he told NBC News.