Greene County Correctional Program

Greene County, Tennessee
Greene Co Correctional

Greene County is located along I-81 on the eastern border of Tennessee. Founded in 1783, Tennessee’s second oldest town, Greenville, was the capital of the short-lived State of Franklin in the late 18th-century. Today Greene County is a progressive, diversified community known for successful collaborations and innovative economic, community and workforce development programming.

As part of their shared goals, Greene County criminal justice system leaders identified the need for better approaches to working with residents who were incarcerated and in need of adult basic education and career and workforce training. In 2014, the county’s sheriff’s department leaders and community partners began to explore ways to provide rehabilitative and career development programs to county inmates. As a component of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Adult Education, Greeneville Adult Basic Education delivered services including basic skills, High School Equivalency preparation, and English as a Second Language programs. These services were identified as the first critical component for local inmates and a partnership was forged between the two departments.

Later in 2014, DTR of Tennessee was identified as a key industry partner. Project leaders attended the Career Pathways National Conference in October, and by November, the County Mayor along with the Judge and Probation Officers were on board with expanding services. In January of 2015, a formal team was established that created the Greene County Correctional Career Pathways (CCP) pilot program. In February, local instructors were trained, and equipment and curriculum were ordered. In March, student intake and classes began, and in April, the employment process began. In 2016, Greene County leaders added the Greene County Health Department to their CCP project team to provide physical and mental health services that were critical to successful participant completion.

Career Correctional Pathways

The CCP program enables participants to improve basic skills, earn their High School Equivalency Diploma and participate in sponsored employment while paying off fines, fees, and restitution to Greene County. Participants also establish savings for their release and reentry to the community. CCP students move through a continuum that includes (1) Identification and selection of participants by Detention Center staff, (2) Intake and assessment, (3) Completion of the CCP 40-hour Career Readiness sessions, (4) Work Release and later (5) On-the-Job Training at DTR Tennessee. Upon successful completion of both employment steps, (6) Reassessment occurs followed by (7) Student communication and follow-up, then (8) Release from County Detention, and (9) Employment.   

In the first year, the initial 40+ students were able to pay back over $40,000 in debt and contribute weekly to their release funds. Remaining wages are used to stimulate growth in the local economy (i.e. food for families, school supplies, medical costs, clothing, housing, transportation, childcare, etc.). The wages enable inmates to become taxpaying citizens and to be fully employed and debt-free upon release.

The program removed barriers to successful reentry into society and the workforce, correctional staff saw noted behavioral changes in the facility, local families began to receive child support payments, and DTR Tennessee got productive employees and developed plans to add additional CCP workers as soon as possible. After the first year, CCP leaders reported that the project had positively impacted many persons and continued to grow in ways that they could have never imagined simply because they could not have forecasted some of the successes.

Collaborative Funding Strategies

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Adult Education provided grant funding to get the program started. Between January and June of 2015, the initial program budget of $43,000 purchased classroom equipment including a Laptop Lab, Smart Board and furniture, paid for curriculum training and certification expenses, put in place the “Makin It Work” curriculum, purchased testing materials and supplies, and covered instructional salaries.

In 2016, Greene County leaders saw the opportunity to utilize the TNECD ThreeStar program to a put in place a new modular building to be stationed at the Greene County Workhouse to expand CCP services and provide computer lab and classroom space. This investment leveraged the previous Labor and Workforce Development Special Projects grant and local funding to establish the new educational and training unit that houses the county’s current inmate programs including CCP, community, and service programs.  

ThreeStar funding was awarded in the amount of $25,000 to prepare the site and secure the modular classroom unit at the Greene County Detention Center. Funds were also used to prepare the unit, for maintenance, and to purchase radio communication units and wireless communication equipment. Local funding provided by the Adult Education Division assisted with instructional funding that included salaries, materials and supplies. Local in-kind contributions covered paint, carpet and on-going cleaning services.

The Greene County CCP project fulfilled local ThreeStar Education & Workforce Development objectives:    

  • Enhance basic skills and high school equivalency instruction
  • Promote and enhance programs addressing addictions
  • Enable local, regional, and state facilitated training opportunities
  • House local staff meetings and professional development
  • Continue and enhance programs that provide basic skills and high school equivalency instruction to attain the Tennessee Equivalency Diploma

Regional Expansion

In 2017, The Tennessee Institute of Public Health (TNIPH) at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) made plans to expand the program to three additional Appalachian counties. The project will award three grants to replicate the Greene County CCP program model. TNIPH will lead a launch team to provide mentorship, oversight, training and technical assistance in support of these projects. Grant funds will be awarded through a region-wide competitive process.

Community and Economic Impact

Greene County leaders knew that a person with high school credentials earns $10,000 more annually than a high school dropout. They also knew that individuals without high school credentials are more likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to live in poverty, and eight times as likely to be incarcerated. In response, Greene County partners created their pilot program, and in the first year of operation, the CCP program successfully served 40+ incarcerated individuals. Combined 2015 – 2016 results include:

Total Participants Served  150
Inmates who have completed CCP classes at the workhouse (including 1,000 hours of free instruction, assessment and certification) 150
Inmates working at SRK/DTR through ASG Staffing  51
Former Inmates hired full-time with benefits at SRK 15
Approximate payments for fines, fees, restitution   $81,000
Wages Paid for SRK Release Savings  $736,133

Program Funding

Division of Adult Education Grant (Computer Equipment, Furnishings, Curriculum, Instructors) $43,000
2015 Greene County Local Funding (Instructional Salaries, Materials, Supplies) $12,000
2015 Greene County In-Kind Match (Paint, Carpet, Maintenance Expenses) $5,000
2016 TNECD ThreeStar Grant (Modular Classroom Transport, Set up, Communication Equipment) $25,000

Program Leadership and Partners

Greeneville Adult Education Program - Program Contact
Greene County Government
Greene County Sheriff’s Department
Greene County Detention Center
SRK (formerly DTR of Tennessee)
A Services Group
Greene County Partnership
Judge Kenneth Newton Bailey Jr.
Greene County Probation Services
East Tennessee Human Resource Agency
Greene County Health Department
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development – Division of Adult Education
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
Northeast State Community College
East Tennessee State University College of Public Health

For more information contact Greeneville Adult Education.

TNECD ThreeStar Program

The ThreeStar Program is designed to focus on the Governor’s five pillars of Community Development: Jobs & Economic Development, Fiscal Strength & Efficient Government, Public Safety, Education & Workforce Development and Health & Welfare. ThreeStar grants help communities increase the impact of a successful project focused on the five pillars and are supported by the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016 and 2017.

For more information visit the TNECD Community and Rural Development.