MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections says the department is offering thousands of dollars in hiring incentives for those looking to start their career or start a new one.
Tony Parker started in the Tennessee Department of Corrections 38 years ago and worked his way up to commissioner.
“I started in this career when I was 19,” Parker said.
He wants others within the department to further their careers as well, saying the department has opportunities for advancement and for those who want to extend their education.
“I got my bachelor’s degree, my master’s degree while I worked in corrections,” Parker said. “Today the Tennessee Department of Corrections helps our employees, we invest in our employees by giving them the opportunity to go back to school.”
Right now, TDOC is looking for correctional officers and they’re paying extra. All newly hired correctional officers will receive a one-time sign-on bonus of $5,000 paid over 18 months.
They’re also providing a $4,000 retention bonus for current correctional officers. TDOC employees who recruit new correctional officers will also be eligible for a $1,000 bonus.
There’s a great need for correctional officers. Currently there’s 858 vacancies, meaning right now many officers work overtime.
“We want to get to a point where we have all these positions filled not only with just a body but the right person,” Parker said.
The commissioner recognizes it’s a tough job. It’s not for everyone.
“It’s very complex. But we know there’s people out there that will benefit and would love this type of work once they get into it,” Parker said. “You have to have good people skills. You have to be a good communicator. You have to be someone who can listen and enforce the rules and regulations of our facilities.”
Parker says the right officers can help the department make a difference to those serving time.
“Giving them the opportunity to make a positive change in their life, because we know 95% of the people we supervise will be back in a community near all of us, and we want them people back in the community in a better spot then when they came to us,” Parker said.
The money for the bonuses comes from internal payroll savings. You have to be at least 18 years old to apply with a high school diploma or equivalent.
You can click here for more information or to apply. Starting salary is $32,500 and after one year bump up to more than $34,000.