Re-entry- Recognizing Governor Lee's focus on re-entry, the Middle Tennessee Region has established transitioning justice involved individuals into employment as a major goal. Department of Corrections representatives were present and thoroughly engaged at the recent regional planning meeting. Representatives led discussions will all partners and identified several barriers specific to re-entry. Addressing these barriers will allow regional reentry programs to be more successful, ultimately lowering recidivism rates and increasing workforce development. The Middle Tennessee Region has chosen the following barriers to focus on addressing in regional re-entry:
Transportation has been identified as one of the major issues facing re-entry programs in the region.
Prior to release- This begins while inmates are institutionalized as programs prepare them for release back into the workforce. Corrections facilities have identified gaps in space and equipment needed for training. Therefore, many programs assisting inmates require transportation outside the facility to educational or work training activities. The Northern Middle workforce area has seen success in Sumner County by providing transportation for inmate work programs. The Sumner County American Job Center (AJC) works with a local judge to select offenders suitable for the program. They actually pick up 2-4 inmates from the jail and transport them to a local job where they have been hired through the AJC. When their work day is complete, they are transported back to the jail. The employers have given positive feedback individuals. The DOC reports that these individuals are followed up with at least 3 times post release. Discussions are centered on how to merge workforce into these regular follow up opportunities. We desire to bring the AJC to the justice involved individual- rather than waiting for them to physically walk into an AJC on their own post-release.