Our History

Tennessee Higher Education in Prison Initiative (THEI) was founded as a non-profit community organization in 2011 by Nashville native and educator Dr. Julie Doochin. THEI began with inside-out college courses at Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville. In December of 2011, THEI began a formal partnership with Nashville State Community College (NSCC) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). Through this partnership, 25 students were accepted to the pilot program at Charles Bass.
In May 2014, in continued partnership with NSCC and TDOC, THEI expanded to Turney Center Correctional Complex (TCIX) in Only, Tennessee. In January 2017, THEI expanded service to the western region of the state in partnership with Dyersburg State Community College (DSCC) at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Tennessee. In the same year, THEI received SACS-COC accreditation, through partner colleges, to grant AS degrees. THEI also secured limited internet access within certain TDOC facilities in 2017.
In August 2019, THEI expanded service to the eastern region of the state through partnership with Roane State Community College (RSCC) and Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg, Tennessee. In the same year, THEI received support from the office of Governor Bill Lee to begin the development of a Bachelor’s degree program.

To date, THEI has enrolled almost 300 students across our three active partnership sites and provided re-entry and student support services to over 90 alums who have returned home. 
Do you want more information on how you can get involved and help support THEI?
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For people in prison, education serves as a form of hope and a way to restore a lost sense of human dignity.
molly lasagna,
executive director