TDOC program offers employment to offenders in custody

TCIX Warden Jason Clendenion says behind every offender is a family, and TDOC’s partnership with the Turney Center Industrial Complex can help offenders send money home to help their families. – TDOC video screenshot

The Tennessee Department of Correction has partnered with Tennessee Composites, a division of Ebbtide Holdings, LLC, to offer employment to incarcerated offenders at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX). The work release program, which began in early July 2021, allows approved inmates to leave the facility to work in a community-based job to assist in their transition from incarceration back into society.

Originally proposed in late 2019, the program was slated to start last year though was delayed as a result of the pandemic. With five offenders participating currently, TDOC and Tennessee Composites hope to expand the program in the near future.

“We’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.” said Scott Regas, VP of Operations and Facility Management at Tennessee Composites.

“The labor force was continually diminishing, and our turnover rate was spiking. Now, we employ five offenders and hope to increase that number quickly.”

TDOC facilitates many work release programs across the state as evidence-based studies has shown that through post-release employment offenders are less likely to commit new crimes – meaning safer communities and fewer victims.

“Behind every TDOC offender is a family,” added TCIX Warden Jason Clendenion. “A lot of times, programs like this give them an opportunity to send money to their family to support their children. You can see it in the offenders face the appreciation they have to participate in a job that pays at this scale. It’s a win for the facility, the offenders, the communities, and their families.“

In order to be eligible for the work release program, offenders must undergo a thorough vetting process. Warden Clendenion explained all participants must be minimum custody, have shown good behavior at the facility, and meet eligibility requirements related to charges and length of sentence. To ensure public safety, offenders wear an electronic monitoring device monitored by officers at the facility while on the job.