Nashville, Tennessee – The Tennessee Higher Education Prison Initiative (THEI) announces a new secondary educational partnership with the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and Lane College, a nearly 150-year-old Historical Black College and University (HBCU) in West Tennessee. The partnership with Lane College will be the first HBCU in Tennessee to offer a bachelor’s degree to incarcerated individuals. Educators and administrators from TDOC, THEI, Lane College, along with local elected officials and the staff of Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) met recently in Tiptonville, Tennessee to tour the facility and meet with instructors and students. Classes for this historic collaboration will be held at the NWCX.

“Lane College’s entry into offering post-secondary education to incarcerated persons is both historic and exciting,” said Lane president, Dr. Logan Hampton. “The essence of the Lane College Mission is to ‘develop the whole student.’ Our dedication to this essential component of our mission is to educate, develop, and transform the student wherever s/he is found…both beyond and behind the walls. The men who complete their course of study and graduate will be released at the end of their sentence and enter the free world armed with an accredited degree that will open doors that would ordinarily and sadly be closed to them. I salute our newest students for their desire to obtain a liberal arts education and I also salute our partners, the Tennessee Department of Correction and the Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative for their invaluable assistance in the creation of this critical collaboration.”

Educational opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals produce clear and demonstrable value by creating access to practical training and academic degrees. A post-secondary education can translate into future employment opportunities, heightened earning potential, and reducing tendencies toward recidivism.

“Every opportunity THEI has to create systems and structures that allow our students to realize their full potential as students, but more importantly as human beings capable of growth, development and transformation is an opportunity we celebrate…it’s an opportunity to disrupt systems of harm. This historic partnership with Lane College, an august HBCU with a reputation for providing exceptional student support and success, will only serve to strengthen THEI’s Higher Education in Prison (HEP) programming,” shared Dr. Laura Ferguson Mimms, THEI’s Executive Director.

“Access to postsecondary education in prison improves safety in prisons and creates opportunity – both for incarcerated people and the communities to which they will one day return,” stated Commissioner Tony Parker. “The collaboration with Lane College was made possible through a partnership with the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative (THEI). We are honored to have this program at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in West Tennessee.”

NWCX Warden, Kevin Genovese, said, It is a blessing to have such a prestigious program available to the inmate population. “It’s great because they get to further their education while they are here. Not to mention, with the history of Lane College, it makes this a monumental program for NWCX, we are honored and excited. Without programs like this, the rehabilitation and reentry process would not be possible.”

TDOC also has higher education partnerships between Lipscomb University at the Debra Johnson Rehabilitation Center, and Rhodes College at the Women’s Therapeutic Residential Center, as well as Community Colleges across the state. THEI operates higher education partnerships at three correctional facilities, Northwest Correctional Complex, Turney Center Industrial Complex and Morgan County Correctional Complex.”