Doors of Hope has provided pre-release education and transition planning at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center (RCCWC) for several years. With the Justice Administration Grant (JAG) funding they received last year, the group was able to expand to the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center (RCADC).
The non-profit has two main goals: to reduce risk of recidivism by providing case management that focuses on transition planning and individual needs and by providing a pre-release education program to raise self-esteem and enhance the probability of finding and keeping employment after release.
Stephanie Keys Thomas is the director of the program, and Lauren Raymer is a social worker. The duo split their time between the two correctional facilities: at RCADC two days a week, and at RCCWC three days a week. They also assist with case management for the women who graduate their program and come into the Doors of Hope housing facilities.
Doors of Hope has successfully enrolled 173 females into Project HOPE at RCADC. Going into the second year of this project, Doors of Hope is planning to partner with more community resources, as well as have additional community speakers come into the jail to teach on a variety of topics including education, job search, physical and mental health, law, and giving personal testimonies. Also starting in the next year of this grant, MTSU Social Work interns will help with data collection, evaluation, and case management.
As a result, Rutherford County is in the process of expanding it's Reentry initiative by hiring a coordinator to oversee and manage the program in conjunction with the Reentry Advisory Committee (made up of representatives from the Mayor's office, RCADC, RCCWC, Probation Office, Recovery Courts, Work Force Development, Project 2nd Chance, American Job Center, Chamber of Commerce, Doors of Hope, and various community/nonprofit leaders). With this development, the programs started through Project HOPE will continue and be expanded once the grant funding ends.
BELOW: Newest Faces at Doors of Hope