NASHVILLE – On Friday, December 5th, Commissioner Derrick Schofield delivered the TDOC budget presentation to Governor Haslam. This proposal includes a portion of the TDOC long-term strategic vision that involves the closing of Charles Bass Correctional Complex. While shuttering CBCX will create a savings of more than $16.4 million for the state of Tennessee, the closing also accomplishes three milestones that are critical to the long term success of TDOC.
The first is that the closing allows the department to more effectively manage the inmate population. Charles Bass houses approximately 650 low security offenders. These inmates will be moved into open beds in our other facilities. Many of these offenders will move into our prison annexes. Statewide there are approximately 300 minimum-custody, annex beds vacant at other facilities. These beds will be filled by the offenders from CBCX. This movement will increase the occupancy rate of our other facilities throughout the state.
Secondly, the closing fills vacancies in the Metro area for our correctional staff. The Department of Correction recognizes the importance of maintaining a balanced and appropriately staffed workforce to sustain a safe and secure prison environment. To maintain this workforce we must address the high turnover rate and position vacancy rates. With the closing of CBCX, many of the staff will move to other facilities within the Middle Tennessee area or offered comparable positions within the agency. This will fill vacancies and increase the stable workforce at these other locations.
Finally, the closing of CBCX allows us the opportunity to self-fund a proposed 5% assignment differential for the correctional security series staff. This will move the Correctional Officers closer to market value and increase the department’s competitiveness when recruiting new team members. Studies show the pay scale for Tennessee Correctional Officers ranks as the eighth lowest in the region. We feel that this focus on the strategic plan and the assignment differential will have a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of Correctional Officers. This proposed differential will help stabilize the work force and ultimately ensure a safe prison environment.
The TDOC budget proposal has been presented to Governor Bill Haslam to review. The Department will work closely with the Governor and the Office of Finance and Administration as they consider the plan.