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Tennessee Correctional Professionals Week underway in the mid-state

Posted at 9:01 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-06 23:51:31-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's a job that can be dangerous and demanding - but this week, correctional officers and counselors are being celebrated across the country.

It’s National Correctional Officers Week, and the Tennessee Department of Correction is marking Correctional Professionals Week. There will be special events for employees throughout the week to thank them for their hard work.

Brandon Little has worked as a correctional officer for about two years at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. He said due to the way officers are portrayed on TV and the movies, it is a job many people don’t understand. He said his daily responsibilities range from checking on inmates, to passing out mail.

“I’m definitely proud of what I do,” said Little. “I like where I’m at. I hope I grow and progress. The sky is the limit.”

Tennessee correctional officers have been among the worst paid state prison workers in the country, leading to a high about of turnover. Currently, there are 633 correctional officer vacancies in the department. A total of 54% of correctional officers left their jobs in the last fiscal year.

However, Governor Bill Lee has approved pay increases for correctional officers and counselors starting on July 1. The starting salary will increase to $32,500.

Little said he believes it is a job that anyone can do, and it comes with a lot of benefits.

“This job, this career offers many opportunities for many different paths,” said Little.

On May 4, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation creating National Correctional Officers Week. It has always been recognized during the first week of May to honor the work of correctional officers and personnel across the country.