Workers at Rutherford County Correctional Work Center are patting themselves on the back Thursday night after becoming the only work house for non-violent offenders in the state to receive national accreditation. But most of all, the center is changing lives.
You won't find any jailhouse bars at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center. That's because the facility is all about rehabilitation.
"It's an open bay dorm setting," said Bernard Salandy, the work center superintendent.
The work center recently became the only correctional work house in the state to be accredited by the American Correctional Association.
"There are almost 4,000 jails in the United States, and only 4 percent of jails are accredited," Salandy said. "It's a huge deal."
The accreditation took a year and a half. Workers had to make sure the building was in pristine condition, and policy and procedures had to be in place. The biggest challenge, however, was making sure medical mandates were met.
The programs designed to help inmates also played a major role. The Doors of Hope and New Vision Church Ministry have been some of the most successful inmate programs.
"Those are the things that make this facility," the superintendent said. "Those kind of programs work because you have a partnership with the community to make sure the repeat offender rate drops to a minimum."
Inmate Brittney Holmes was in an abusive marriage and turned to drugs to cope.
"It has opened my eyes to live the way that God wants me to live and not my will," Holmes said.
She said being sentenced to the work center was the best thing that could have happened to her.
"It has helped me to look into my life at the things I was doing negatively, and how to deal with them more positively," Holmes said. "I have never, ever seen something so good in my life."
This is a huge accomplishment for the work center. To put this into prospective, there are only three county jails in the entire state - Davidson, Shelby, and Knox - that are also accredited.
Salandy said it's all about helping inmates make a smooth transition back into society.
"Being in jail wasn't the end of the day. It was actually a new day, the start of a new life with their families, and to be productive citizens in the community," Salandy said.
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