Dept. of Correction official resigns over parole audit - WSMV Channel 4

Dept. of Correction official resigns over parole audit

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Fallout continues from a critical state audit that revealed Tennessee wasted taxpayer dollars by monitoring dead convicts.

Department of Correction Assistant Commissioner Gary Tullock has submitted his resignation, effective immediately, and two workers have been fired who claimed to be supervising parolees. The problem was that those parolees were no longer alive.

Even the commissioner who oversees supervision of probationers and parolees called the situation unacceptable and promised changes Wednesday in a hearing at the state capitol, but state lawmakers want more than that. They want to prosecute the employees who knowingly made false claims.

"When I read the audit and saw where we were supervising dead people, I knew that would be a headline, not only in Tennessee but all over the world," said Charles Traughber, Chairman of the Tennessee Board of Parole.

In 107 documented cases, the probation and parole officers were actively monitoring people who were dead - some for as long as 19 years. At times, the parole officers were merely checking on arrest records for the deceased parolees, while in other cases the officers claimed to have actually made contact with the person after their date of death.

Now, the state is saying at least two officers have been fired, but that doesn't go far enough for state lawmakers who said Wednesday they were shocked by the findings.

"How do we know how much of this is taking place, that we have people who are claiming to check on folks and they are not actually doing that?" said State Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield.

Also, some of the most violent offenders and sex offenders are on GPS monitoring. Those GPS devices trigger an alarm if the offender goes somewhere he shouldn't be or if the device has been tampered with.

In 80 percent of those cases, the audit shows, workers didn't follow up on the alarms in a timely fashion.

"If we're not doing it right, it's unacceptable. And we have to do better," said Tennessee Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield.

The Department of Correction recently took over supervision of those on probation or parole in the state.

"We have a responsibility. No, we have an obligation to get them fixed. One of the comments was, 'can we get them done?' We will get it done," Schofield said.

Lawmakers said they want to be updated on the changes next year, but the head of the Board of Parole said he was skeptical that could actually happen.

The correction commissioner said they are in the process of a top to bottom review to see if anything else needs to be fixed.

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