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Good News Brought to You by the Tennessee Department of Corrections

| October 10, 2017

The Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) 2017 Annual Report is hot off the presses. The report is replete with positive reforms and a full download will require multiple blog posts. I decided to start with highlighting DOC’s focus on reentry. This is timely, given the state’s increasingly high supervision revocation rates.

TDOC reveals that the enactment of the Public Safety Act of 2016, which was implemented in January 2017, has truly proven, “transformational for TDOC Community Supervision.” TDOC is launching its Day Report Program and intends to have 2 Day Report Centers in each of its three regions by Fall 2017.

These programs are described as, “a one year, three-phase program designed to assist moderate- to high-risk offenders with a substance use and/or a mental health issue.” The duration of the program is nine to twelve months, and each phase will place an emphasis on, “substance use, job skills, family reunification, and behavioral and social programs; all phases emphasize accountability and self-discipline.”

Source: Tennessee Department of Corrections 2017 Annual Report

To qualify for the program, participants must be a convicted felon, subject to TDOC’s supervision, with at least a two-year probationary term, “and/or have a substance use concern.” Using TDOC’s newly developed validated risk and needs assessment tool, courts and supervision officers are able to identify qualified participants.

 

Each day reporting location will incorporate, “community resource centers”, that will provide a number of services to everyone under community supervision, regardless of whether they participate in the day report program. These services includes access to, “employment specialists,” for each location who, “actively work[] with local businesses, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, American Job Centers, Goodwill, and others to help offenders find meaningful, long-term employment.” Additional TDOC staff will also assist with a number of other services, such as health and wellness services.

While certain counties in Tennessee have operated day report centers at the county level, the statewide expansion of the program for those under the supervision of the TDOC is good news. In 2016, TDOC reported that 40 percent of its new admissions were technical violations (missing a meeting or failing a drug test for example), and 38 percent of parolees had their parole revoked. TDOC’s new day report program is a significant step toward removing barriers to reentry by filling what had been a void in reentry services.

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JULIE WARREN is a graduate of Marshall University and of Regent University School of Law. She also attended Georgetown Law Center as a visiting student. While in law school, she clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Julie served four years at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. After a few years in private practice as a civil defense litigator, Julie returned to public service and began her work in the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General where she primarily served as an appellate advocate for the State of West Virginia and as legislative counsel to the Attorney General.

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