While co-instructing inside-out courses at Charles Bass, Dr. Doochin was struck by the fact that the free-world students were earning college credit for the courses while their incarcerated colleagues were not. There were several universities in Nashville teaching courses inside the prison walls, but only one, Lipscomb University, was awarding college credit and AS degrees at the Tennessee Prison for Women. This knowledge and these experiences helped her to build and design a model for providing degree-bearing higher education in prisons in Tennessee. When approached with the idea, then Nashville State President George Van Allen was interested, pointing out that serving this traditionally-neglected sector of the population was the natural domain of a community college.
At the same time, Dr. Doochin contacted and brought into the discussion then Director of Education for Tennessee Department of Correction, Sharmila Patel, who shared in their vision. Ms. Patel approached Warden J.R. Miller at Charles Bass Correctional Complex, a minimum to medium security prison for men in Nashville, to host the pilot program. 25 men were accepted as students to NSCC in December 2011, and English Composition I and World Religions, two classes drawn from the TBR General Education Core curriculum, met behind bars for the first time in Spring 2012. In May 2014, THEI, also in partnership with NSCC, expanded to a second correctional facility in Middle Tennessee--Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, TN. In January 2017, THEI expanded to the western region of the state with a third college program in partnership with Dyersburg State Community College at Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, TN.