NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The pay for Tennessee’s probation and parole officers sits at the bottom when compared to other southeast states, but the state’s Department of Correction has a fix in mind.
During a Tennessee House budget hearing Tuesday, Commissioner Tony Parker outlined a plan that would significantly increase the average starting salary that is currently just under $29,000 yearly.
“I wonder why I would go to work for you when I could make more money driving a garbage truck,” asked Rep. Johnny Shaw during the commissioner’s testimony before the House Finance committee.
“We still have a significant hill to climb for all correctional employees,” Commissioner Parker said in a reference to all his employees.
Commissioner Parker showed how Tennessee is last among southeast states for average pay of parole and probation officers, but it’s not just about the salary.
“They go into some of the roughest neighborhoods in Tennessee to ensure compliance with supervision standards and as you heard caseloads are way too high,” he told the legislative committee.
The commissioner recommends upping that average salary for probation and parole officers to around to the mid-thirties yearly.
“I made a promise to our staff–our probation officers– to really focus on that this year,” added Commissioner Parker.
But the commissioner’s promise only goes so far.
The governor might include the pay increase in his budget that will be released early next year, but its up to lawmakers to approve it.
Corrections officers who work in the prison system received a pay increase last year.
The commissioner believes the increase contributed to fewer vacancies in the Department of Correction facilities this year.