This publication by the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) highlights how the Tennessee Office of Reentry creates pathways to successful reentry through employment.
This brief by the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) spotlights the Tennessee Office of Reentry, which strives to help people exiting incarceration succeed in the community by removing barriers and improving state-coordinated reentry processes. Tennessee’s reentry office is intentionally embedded in the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, using employment as a springboard to address the broad range of issues a person involved with the justice system may face. The choice to house the Office of Reentry outside of a corrections agency acknowledges how critical stable employment is to successful reentry, and its separation from the prison system means that it can build trust and buy-in in a way that a department of corrections—tasked with monitoring and sanctioning—may not be able to, despite best efforts. Gov. Bill Lee created the Office of Reentry following passage of Tennessee’s landmark 2021 legislation, Alternatives to Incarceration (SB767/HB784) and the Reentry Success Act (SB768/HB785), as part of his comprehensive criminal justice reform agenda. CJI, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, helped state leaders develop policy and practice solutions that were ultimately reflected in these bills. CJI also provides ongoing technical assistance to Tennessee in its implementation of these bills. This brief is the first in a series that highlights innovative, research-driven efforts in JRI states. These promising practices may serve as models for other jurisdictions seeking to improve their justice systems.
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