Evidence-based Programming

This grant’s state funds are available to government agencies managing a local jail that houses TDOC inmates to support the implementation or enhancement of evidence-based programming to improve offender outcomes.

Evidence-based programming is defined as “a program or programs shown by scientific research to effectively reduce recidivism rates and increase an offender’s likelihood of success following release from incarceration, including programs focused on education, vocational training, mental health, substance abuse rehabilitation, or building healthy relationships.”

Legislative Authority: Tennessee Code Annotated §41-8-106

The purpose of the Evidence-Based Programming (EBP) project is to provide funding to local jails to implement evidence-based programming for convicted felon inmates in an effort to:

• Improve access to knowledge and skills required for successful re-entry into local communities following release from incarceration;

• Reduce recidivism rates among formerly incarcerated individuals; and

• Increase meaningful collaboration between local jails and local community partners.

Governor Bill Lee’s Reentry Success Act of 2021 amends Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 41-8-106, to say that county governments operating jails that house convicted felons are eligible for reimbursement or compensation based on a tiered accredidation system. One of the eligibility requirements for reimbursement is “(iii) The county provides evidence-based programming to felony offenders that matches the risks and needs of the offender, as determined though a department-approved validated risk-needs assessment;” (see TCA 41-8-106 for complete description of requirements).

Evidence-based programming is defined as “a program or programs shown by scientific research to effectively reduce recidivism rates and increase an offender’s likelihood of success following release from incarceration, including programs focused on education, vocational training, mental health, substance abuse rehabilitation, or building healthy relationships.” Agencies intending to implement an evidence-based program are required to use recognized programs that are rated as “Highest Rated” or “Second Highest Rated” according to the PEW Clearing House (Click the link and select Correctional Facility as the Setting on the left). Agencies intending to implement a vocational program can reference TDOC’s list of vocational programming currently offered in Tennessee prisons. TBR also has information available on vocational programs offered through Tennessee College of Applied Technology that may be available in your area.

For more information about Evidence-Based Programming in Tennessee, see TDOC’s informational page.

In order to ensure that EBP-funded jails provide evidence-based programming to inmates that matches the risks and needs of that individual, agencies are required to administer an approved, validated risk-needs assessment (RNA) to each inmate receiving programming supported in whole or in part with EBP grant funding.

Agencies are encouraged to also provide evidence-based programming to misdemeanor offenders that match the risks and needs of the offender, as determined through the approved risk assessment. Misdemeanor offenders may utilize evidence-based programming, as long as the programming is fully accessible to appropriate felony offenders first and foremost.

Eligible agencies are limited to government agencies that operate an adult correctional facility that houses convicted felons pursuant to an agreement with the state, and meet criteria to create or enhance inmate programming. These entities may sub-contract with community-based nonprofit partners to implement evidence-based programs.

State funds may be used by the subrecipient for personnel costs, training and technical assistance, equipment, operational costs, and information systems that are part of an approved project and are in addition to the resources already available to the subrecipient.  Costs must be reasonable, allocable, and necessary to the project and comply with the State Program requirements.  Any questions about allowable use of funds should be directed to the Office of Criminal Justice Programs.

Inmate Transport: Vehicles purchased with grant funds for the transport of inmates must be marked and secured. For vehicles not marked and secured, agencies must notify their OCJP Program Manager and describe how inmates will be assessed for low risk during transportation. 

General Salaries and Personnel Costs: Payment of personnel costs are allowable if costs are a part of an approved project and are necessary and incidental to project implementation and operation. Overtime pay will only be approved by OCJP on a case by case basis.

Operational Costs: Payment of operational costs is allowable if costs are part of an   approved project and are necessary to the project implementation and operation.  Operational costs may include supplies, telecommunication costs, postage and shipping, printing and publications costs, rent, equipment rental costs and insurance costs.  Costs for a program must be prorated across all fund sources.

Furniture Costs: Payment of furniture must be pre-approved by OCJP before a purchase is made.

Professional Fees: If the implementing governmental agency or non-profit organization is entering into a subcontractual relationship with an entity that is providing project based professional services for the project, a subcontract will be required between the implementing agency and the subcontracting entity.  Subrecipients should check the Administrative Manual as many items in this line item require a pre-approved Subcontract.  Enter the name of the individual or company being used, the number of hours or days for the fiscal year and the total cost.  Consultant rates of payment are to be reasonable and consistent with fees for similar services in the market place.

Individual consultant fees cannot exceed $650 per day or $81.25 per hour; this includes legal, medical, psychological, training, and accounting consultants.

Equipment: Equipment expenses, which are part of an approved project, if necessary and allocable to that project, are allowable expenses.  Equipment defined as tangible non-expendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit or “Sensitive Minor Equipment”.  “Sensitive Minor Equipment” defined as moveable, high-risk, sensitive property items purchased with a cost between $500.00 and $5,000.00, such as computers (i.e., laptops, tablets), weapons, TVs, and cameras acquired, used and managed for criminal justice grant purposes. Equipment or other assets that are purchased in whole or in part with grant funds are subject to OCJP policy guidelines.  These guidelines require that whenever a subrecipient wishes to dispose of surplus equipment, or change its use, the equipment must be returned to the Office of Criminal Justice Programs. There is no time limit on this requirement. NOTE: If your agency intends to purchase tablets for inmate programming, please coordinate directly with the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development to access important information about that purchase prior to submitting your grant application.

Technology:  In order to promote information sharing and enable interoperability among disparate systems across the justice and public safety community, OCJP requires the grantee to comply with DOJ's Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (DOJ's Global) guidelines and recommendations for this particular grant. Subgrantee shall conform to the Global Standards Package (GSP) and all constituent elements, where applicable, as described at: http://www.it.ojp.gov/gsp_grantcondition. Subgrantee shall document planned approaches to information sharing and describe compliance to the GSP and appropriate privacy policy that protects shared information, or provide detailed justification for why an alternative approach is recommended.

Software and Hardware:  Any law enforcement records management system must be from a TBI approved vendor and be TIBRS compliant.  Records management systems must be preapproved by OCJP prior to submitting the proposal.  Records management systems must be XML compatible.

Travel: Expenses and reimbursements for in state and out of state travel must follow the most current comprehensive State of Tennessee Travel Rules and Regulations.

Training, Conferences, and Meetings: Training, Conferences, and Meetings which are part of an approved project, if necessary and allocable to that project, are allowable expenses. The following cost thresholds are in place:

Meeting Room/Audio Visual Services: Lesser of $25 per day per attendee or $20,000.

Logistical Planners: Lesser of $50 per attendee or $8,750.

Programmatic Planners: Lesser of $200 per attendee or $35,000.

Food and Beverage: Generally not allowed.

Refreshments: Generally not allowed.

Charging Inmates for Programming: Inmates shall not be charged for programming funded under this grant beyond programming that is already covered by  TCA. 

Generic Unallowable Costs:

  • Land acquisition (Purchase of real property),
  • Any expenditures that reflect supplanting,
  • Compensation of federal employees,
  • Travel of federal employees,
  • Bonuses or commissions,
  • Military type equipment,
  • Lobbying,
  • Fundraising (including financial campaigns, endowment drives, solicitation of gifts and bequests, and similar expenses incurred solely to raise capital or obtain contributions),
  • Corporate formation,
  • State and Local taxes,
  • Legal fees,
  • Cost in applying for this grant,
  • Any expenses prior to the grant award date,
  • First class travel,
  • Management or administrative training,
  • Gas or gift cards,
  • Depreciation,
  • Sole source contracts (without the prior written approval from the OCJP), and
  • Cost incurred outside the project period.

The following services, activities, and costs CANNOT be supported with state grant funds:

  • Fundraising: Subrecipients are not permitted to use state funds for fundraising.
  • Inherently Religious Activities: State funding may not be used to support inherently (or explicitly) religious activities.
  • Dues or Membership Fees:  State funds may not be used for dues or membership fees to an organization conducting any type of lobbying, including advocating  with government agencies for policy change.
  • Program Income: Program Income is unallowable without prior approval.

The Project Director is responsible for timely submission of completed program reports each quarter and at the end of the year. Inability to submit required reports in a timely fashion is considered a failure of required contract obligations. All reporting links are located under the reporting tab of OCJP's website. 

Invoice for Reimbursement (Non-state Agencies): The invoice is used to request monthly reimbursement. It is strongly recommended that agencies invoice monthly, when monthly expenditures are incurred. However subrecipient agencies can invoice quarterly. If invoicing quarterly, agencies MUST request reimbursement 30 days after the end of each quarter for all the expenses incurred during the quarter in its entirety. Funds can only be distributed to sub-recipients upon receipt of a properly prepared and signed invoice. The invoices are emailed to the Office of Business and Finance of the Department of Finance and Administration.

Evidence-based Programming Report - Due online by July 31st. This report is completed online at the following link: Evidence-based Programming Report

Project Equipment Summary: Due online by July 31st . This report must be completed by any subrecipient that purchased sensitive minor equipment with OCJP grant funds. This report is completed online at the following link: Evidence-based programming report: Project Equipment Summary 

Quarterly Program Income Summary Report: Agencies should be aware of and comply with reporting Program Income as defined in the Department of Justice Financial Guide. Project Directors will be required to submit this report on a quarterly basis. It is due to OCJP no later than 15 days past the end of each state fiscal year quarter, (July 1 - September 30), (October 1 - December 31), (January 1 - March 31), (April 1 - June 30). All income generated as a direct result of an agency funded project shall be deemed program income and reported on this form. Fines are not considered program income. These reports are completed online at the following link: Income Summary Report

Project directors are encouraged to make the results and accomplishments of their activities available to the public. A subrecipient who publicizes project activities and results shall adhere to the following:

Responsibility for the direction of the project should not be ascribed to the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs.

All reports, studies, notices, informational pamphlets, press releases, signs, billboards, DVDs, public awareness kits, training curricula, webinars, websites, and similar public notices (written, visual or sound) prepared and released by the Grantee shall include the statement:

“This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.”

Additionally, studies and research/report type publications expressing the direction of project activity must also contain the following funding statement:

“The opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of or the State of Tennessee, Office of Criminal Justice Programs.”