Until three weeks ago, the Tennessee emergency management agency employed a prison inmate to oversee its purchasing and for a time did not restrict his access to a storage area where guns were kept, reports The Tennessean has learned. The inmate, Daniel Erickson, is serving eight years for trying to hire a hit man to help him kill his wife. His wife alleged that the murder plot was aimed at fraudulently collecting a $225,000 life insurance policy after he got into financial trouble.
Erickson was employed as part of a state work-release program that lets inmates prepare for re-entry into society by getting day jobs and returning to prison for the night. However, work-release inmates don’t usually become regular state employees, as Erickson did. TEMA officials provided Erickson with a state cell phone and a state vehicle so he could go to the post office and act as a courier between the agency’s two Nashville offices. He had an annual state salary of $26,000. Erickson was one of about 60 inmates on the work release program, many of them working for private companies. They receive real-world pay for their work, with the money first going to the Correction Department so it can deduct the costs of room and board, court costs, fines, or child-support payments.