Tennessee’s new prison chief inherits a department fresh off a sexual harassment controversy in its highest ranks and facing an inmate population crunch, reports The Tennessean. George Little is a consummate professional who is equipped to face the challenges, says Mayor A.C. Wharton of Shelby County, where Little has overseen the correctional system for more than two years. Wharton said Little has ably managed two prison facilities with 2,800 inmates at a time when his budget has been cut. “He’s not a one-dimensional person who thinks the only way to do this is to build stronger prisons and stronger locks,” Wharton said. “At the same time, he knows how to run a tough prison. The Shelby County prison is a tough prison.”
Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Littls’s appointment last week. Bredesen is trying to get the state’s prison system back on track after a rough year in which guards were accused of smuggling in drugs and Little’s predecessor left under a cloud. Former commissioner Quenton White was forced out in July amid questions about his handling of a sexual harassment case of his executive assistant and an allegation against himself. Deputy Commissioner Gayle Ray has been acting commissioner. Ray, a former Davidson County sheriff, had sought to head the department permanently.