by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 1, 2016) — The embattled commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), Derrick Schofield, has tendered his resignation, according to WSMV, Channel 4 in Nashville, to take an executive position in a “worldwide” correctional company.

Schofield was hired in 2011 by Governor Bill Haslam. Both men have been criticized over the last year for a staffing crisis within the Tennessee prison system reportedly resulting from Schofield’s change in the way overtime pay is awarded.

Correction officers have reported overwork, dangerous conditions, and insufficient staffing to state legislators who held subcommittee meetings last summer.

Haslam continued to support Schofield despite the complaints and criticism.

Gang uprisings, stabbings, assaults by both inmates and correction officers at Tennessee prisons have been reported to this publication over the last year, particularly at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville.

West Tennessee State Penitentiary (WTSP) inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III predicted last summer that Schofield would be forced to resign.

Fitzpatrick and others have reported prisoners-for-profit schemes operating within NWCX entailing forced inmate participation in the Pro-Social Life Skills (PSLS) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses.

According to his resignation letter, posted by WSMV, Schofield’s resignation is effective at the end of June.  Schofield will be assuming a position with The GEO Group, Inc., a “real estate investment trust specializing in the design, development, financing, and operation of correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities worldwide.”

GEO reports on its website that it partners with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and state and local prison systems.

Schofield’s resignation letter does not yet appear on the TDOC website, but the news was announced by Haslam on his official website.  “Department of Correction commissioner has been integral to Haslam’s safety agenda since 2011,” reads the article’s subheading.

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