In May 2014, THEI began offering credit-bearing courses through Nashville State Community College at the Turney Center Industrial Complex, a medium security prison for men in Middle Tennessee. The program at the Turney Center is modeled after the pilot program established at Charles Bass Correctional Complex in 2012. Students, who also work full-time, take three courses per semester weekly, leading to an Associate's degree in one of two majors: Business Administration and Political Science. Credits, certificates and degrees are recognized and transferable to any Tennessee Board of Regents college or university, as well as certain private and public colleges and universities in the Southeastern region. Professors are full-time or adjunct at NSCC. During the Summer of 2018, THEI incorporated the first College Prep program at TCIX. College Prep is a 10-week program that teaches applicants habits of mind skills to prepare for the college experience (time management, study skills, and more) and Accuplacer preparation.
Technology is an important piece of the program to ensure incarcerated students experience technological equity, to the extent possible, with NSCC campus students. Students are assigned desk-top computers with Microsoft office and other non-internet based software. Instructors and students can use a smart projector and laser printer. We began a pilot initiative in summer 2016 by offering online Biology I, the first internet course offered behind bars in Tennessee. Since that time we have continued to offer additional online courses each semester. As a result of the changing higher education in prison landscape due to COVID-19, Turney Center was the first prison in THEI to utilize Zoom technology to offer college instruction. THEI students are gaining much needed computer skills which will help them be successful in a 21st century digital world.
In January 2017, THEI entered in partnership with Dyersburg State Community College (DSCC) to expand its programming to Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, a medium security prison for men. Classes began with a cohort of 25 students taking English Composition I and General Psychology. In 2018 the site expanded to a second cohort. THEI's first West Tennessee site follows the same basic structure of our Middle Tennessee model: students work full-time during the day and in the evenings take two courses per semester working towards an Associate's degree in Business Administration from. Should a student be released prior to earning his degree, credits earned from these courses are recognized and transferable to any Tennessee Board of Regents college or university, as well as certain private and public colleges and universities in the Southeastern region. Professors are full-time or adjunct at DSCC. In order to be admitted to the program, each applicant must take the standard TN college placement exam, Accuplacer, and place at college level; complete the application and write an essay.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, DSCC shifted to online classes. NWCX has been equipped with modern computers with internet access that allow students to receive the same rigorous and challenging college experience they were accustomed to getting.
In 2021, THEI launched its first HBCU partnership with Lane College to offer a bachelor's degree program. The first Lane College cohort will graduate in 2023.
In August 2019, THEI launched our third partnership with Roane State Community College (RSCC). THEI welcomed a cohort of 22 students from Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) to start the new program. The MCCX students are earning an Associate's degree that is transferable to any four-year school in Tennessee. RSCC professors are full-time or adjunct faculty for RSCC. Prior to joining the THEI program, applicants must show college readiness by taking the Nelson Denny Reading Test. RSCC provides academic support to new students by having students enroll into Writing and Math Learning Support courses during the first academic school year.