(WBIR - Knoxville) It's estimated 90 percent of those incarcerated will be released back into communities.
Transition from being behind bars to becoming successful members of society can be a difficult, but a new state program is recruiting volunteers to help ease the troubles.
The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) has kicked off it's Take One program, a collaboration between faith-based and nonprofit organizations and TDOC to help offenders leaving correctional facilities to successfully re-enter society.
On Saturday, more than two dozen people from across East Tennessee met at Central Baptist Church of Bearden for training on how to mentor former inmates.
Tommi Landry of Morristown said, "It's not just breaking the cycle for the next generation. But it's the people who get out, they have no place to go, they have no support system, and they're right back to the same thing."
Byron Dickerson of Louisville said, "If they're just coming out of prison they don't know. They're a blank slate a lot of times. But if you have someone walking right next to them the chance of success is such much better."
Steve Humphreys, Vice Chairman for Take One, said an estimated 7,500 inmates are released from state correctional facilities each year. Humphreys also pointed out there are about 8,700 churches across the state. The idea for Take One is each faith-based organization takes one of the returning citizens and trains him / her to be successful in society.
Humphreys said, "Working with ex-offenders, or returning citizens, like I have for the last almost 20 years I have seen so many men be reconciled with their families and to their children and it is so exciting to be a part of."
TDOC's East Tennessee Spokesman Robert Reburn explained, "We feel that the faith-based community can offer a level of support, encouragement, and guidance that can be the difference between a successful transition home and going back to prison."
Those who attended Saturday's training must now attend another training session at the correctional facility where they will volunteer. Once complete, the person will then become a certified volunteer.
In addition to Knoxville, Take One training has also been held in Nashville and Jackson.
Reburn said TDOC is hoping to begin partnering ex-inmates and certified volunteers by mid-August.
Any faith or non-profit leaders who has an organization that might be interested should visit TDOC's Take One website.