SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE)– The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has started a new program to help people successfully reenter society after serving time in prison.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office just started a reentry program for ex-offenders with money they received through a federal grant. This is the first time they have created a program like this.

“Every other business is looking for return service. We’re not. We’re hoping they’ll become productive and that the tools we give them allows a business to have an employee that’s a productive employee,” Sheriff Michael Hodges said. “And that the services that they need to continue to be successful are provided to them. So that’s our hope.”

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office is making sure all members of their community are getting the help they need, including those those who have previously been incarcerated.

The program will help find formerly incarcerated persons find housing, mental health and substance abuse treatments, employment, education opportunities and healthcare plans.

“It’s difficult if you walk out cold with nothing and you got to kind of start all over because maybe you’ve been out of society a year, maybe it’s been 24 months, maybe it’s just been 90 days,” Hodges said. “Any timeframe you’re still a little bit behind the curve a little bit and we’re trying to slow that and reduce that curve and make it a smooth transition for them in hopes that we don’t see them again unless we just run into them in the public.”

This grant will last for three years. After that, the sheriff said they will be asking the county commission to put the funding into the county budget to be able to continue the program. 

“Giving them somebody to walk them through it, giving them some guidance, giving them some tools and some training and some education goes a long way,” Hodges said. “It may be solving that issue and then at the end of the day, we have a productive member of society.”

Sheriff Hodges said they will be monitoring the success of the program. They are continuing to look for community partners. If you would like to help, you can find contact information on their website, here.