The commissioner of the state Correction Department said Monday he is looking forward to working with the new chairman of the Board of Parole to enhance public safety across Tennessee.
Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed former Republican state lawmaker Richard Montgomery to replace Charles Traughber, who retired last week after serving 30 years as the board's chairman.
Traughber helped Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield implement a legislative measure to move certain functions to the Correction Department. They included probation and parole services and the community corrections program, which assists victims and offers more options to local courts.
Schofield said he believes Montgomery will help see that both agencies continue to work together effectively.
"The Department of Correction and the Board of Parole are engaged in joint efforts to ensure effective supervision of offenders both inside and outside the fence," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "Chairman Montgomery understands that mission and will serve our state well."
"His passion for the citizens and welfare of this state are well known, and he has the right balance of compassion and common sense to lead this important organization," he said in a news release.
Montgomery, who is 66, was appointed to the seven-member board in January and was paid $93,700. He will now make a little over $109,000.
As a board member in general, Montgomery said he does have compassion for people and their well-being, "whether it be the prisoner or whether it be the victim."
He also strongly believes that an offender can change.
"You've got to believe in the rehabilitation of a prisoner and the ability to get them out of the mindset of crime and try to be a productive citizen," he said. "You've got to believe that can happen, and I do believe it can happen."
Before losing last year's August primary by 78 votes in District 71, Montgomery represented Sevier County in the House of Representatives for 14 years. He was chairman of the House Education Committee and served on several other committees that included the Select Committee on Corrections Oversight and the Select Committee on Children and Youth.
Montgomery is retired from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where for 27 years he was operations manager for UT-Battelle, the consortium that manages the lab.