NASHVILLE, Tenn. – May 19, 2023 – More than 100 inmates who could be released from Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) custody in the next few months spent the day preparing for their life after prison. The Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility (DSNF) in Nashville welcomed over 25 vendors to participate in their semi-annual Reentry Fair, an event that connects offenders with a variety of resources critical to the reentry process such as housing, employment, and transportation.
To attend the event, offenders must be within 24 months of release or have a parole hearing in the next 60 days.
“Their chances of success are much higher when we facilitate these connections on the inside. Our goal is to identify the specific reentry needs of each individual and connect that person with the community providers specializing in those areas,” said DSNF Chief Counselor Ashlee Wheeler.
One offender, who has spent the last seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and is being released in July, said he’s thankful for reentry fairs like this.
“This event is allowing me to meet people who can help me transition back into society,” he said. “A lot of people in here don’t have family, they don’t have stable living, and we don’t have a job when we get out. But the people in this room can help us with all those things.”
DSNF also provides classes on resume writing and interview skills, assistance in applying for food stamps and other programs, and ensures each person leaving custody has an ID or drivers license and a copy of their vital records.
“If these offenders are going to come out and be my neighbors,” Wheeler said. “I want them to be as successful as possible. Everyone deserves a second chance.”