New Tennessee program helps former inmates re-enter society

New Tennessee program helps former inmates re-enter society

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Take One is a collaboration between faith based and nonprofit organizations across the state, designed to help offenders begin new lives. Take One is a collaboration between faith based and nonprofit organizations across the state, designed to help offenders begin new lives.
Nichole will be the first recipient of the Take One program. Behind bars for three years, she knows adjusting will be hard, and looks forward to the help upon her release next year. Nichole will be the first recipient of the Take One program. Behind bars for three years, she knows adjusting will be hard, and looks forward to the help upon her release next year.
By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's a major problem in the state of Tennessee: inmates getting released from prison, only to return a few months later. A new statewide program is focusing on fixing that problem, helping former inmates successfully re-enter society and stay there.

Each month in Tennessee, more than 1,200 inmates, who have completed their sentences, are released back into society. Of those 1,200, 47 percent end up back behind bars.

"Not having a support system. Not having somebody who really cares. That causes them to go back and do the same things that got them in trouble before," said Deborah Thompson of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, director of religious and volunteer services.

That's something the Take One program is aimed at changing.

Take One is a collaboration between faith based and nonprofit organizations across the state, designed to help offenders begin new lives. Each organization will take on one offender, mentoring them for up to a year after their release, helping them with everything from getting a job and finding housing to medical care and counseling.

"They need to learn how to budget. Can you imagine a guy who hasn't had a job in 20 years if he gets a job? He's going to need some help. They're going to need some help to know how to budget," said Representative Johnny Shaw from the 80th District in West Tennessee, who is heading up Take One's Steering Committee.

Providing them the resources to say on track will also mean more safety in your neighborhood.

"It should make all of our communities safer. The guy won't even have the desire to steal if he's got food on the table," said Shaw.

Nichole will be the first recipient of the Take One program. Behind bars for three years, she knows adjusting will be hard, and looks forward to the help upon her release next year.

"But if you have someone who is going to stay with you and push you, just like in the prison or anywhere, you're going to strive. You're going to strive anywhere as long as somebody is right there on your heels trying to help you and guide you to do the right thing," said Nichole.

Inmates have to apply if they wish to be part of Take One.

The Department of Corrections will provide training to all organizations in the months prior to an inmates release, outlining exactly what help they'll be needing.

Take One is looking for East Tennessee faith based and nonprofit organizations willing to take part in the program.

To find out how to apply, visit the Tennessee Department of Corrections website.

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