NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today appointed Gayle Ray to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Correction.
Ray will assume her new role on January 1, 2010, following the departure of current Correction Commissioner George Little, who earlier this week announced he will leave Bredesen’s cabinet on December 31 to become chief administrative officer for newly-elected Memphis Mayor AC Wharton. Ray currently serves as deputy commissioner in the Department of Correction.
“I’m pleased to appoint Gayle to this position and appreciate her willingness to serve our state in this important role,” Bredesen said. “Her experience in corrections and law enforcement includes service at the state and local levels, and she is the right person to assume leadership of our efforts to the department.”
Tennessee’s Department of Correction is responsible for supervising and rehabilitating convicted offenders. The department operates 14 prisons and correctional facilities across the state that house more than 19,000 inmates. The department also operates the Tennessee Correctional Academy in Tullahoma, which serves as the state’s primary training and staff development program for correction workers.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve Governor Bredesen and the State of Tennessee as commissioner,” Ray said. “Under the leadership of Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Little, the department has made great strides to ensure public safety by better preparing prisoners for a successful return to the community, and I intend to continue leading the department toward this important goal.”
Ray served as sheriff of Davidson County from 1994 to 2002, during which time the Metro jail system became the first jail system in the country to be fully accredited. She also developed systems to help offenders with mental illness, initiated graduated sanctions and started a number of rehabilitative programs to help offenders re-enter the community.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master’s of Business Administration from Belmont University. Ray is a recipient of the Athena Award, the YWCA Academy for Women of Achievement Award and the Public Relations Society of America’s Apollo Award.