NASHVILLE — Legislation authorizing a pilot program to award grants to local county sheriffs or probation departments that are successful in reducing recidivism was approved by the full Senate today. Senate Bill 1865, sponsored by Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson), would provide $1 million in grants to fund a three-year successful reentry program in four Tennessee counties.
The funding for the bill was included in the state budget that was adopted last week.
“This pilot program will help identify and formulate better policies to reduce recidivsm that can be scaled throughout the state,” said Senator Jackson. “The goal is to reduce recidivism, make our communities safer, and save taxpayer money.”
Governor Bill Haslam’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism found that 46 percent of people released from prison or jail in Tennessee were incarcerated again within three years.
“Tennessee’s recidivism rate is far too high,” Jackson added. “We need evidence-based programs which help these inmates turn their lives around so that they are productive, taxpaying citizens. Otherwise, we risk them turning back to a life of crime and creating a never-ending cycle of time behind bars.”
Under the proposal, applicants must apply to the Department of Correction stating program objectives, goals and metrics. Once selected, they can receive a portion of the money upfront to start or expand a re-entry program, but the remaining funds will not be awarded unless specific benchmarks reducing recidivism or probation revocations are met.
Tennessee spends over $1 billion for corrections or 6.74 percent of the state’s budget. It is the fifth largest line item in the budget.
The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.