TDOC operates as its own school system, with the Commissioner acting as the Superintendent. The department recognizes the crucial role education and training play in the successful rehabilitation of incarcerated felons. With additional education and training, offenders are less likely to re-offend than those who do not learn a skill or trade while incarcerated. Roughly 20% of the eligible inmate population is enrolled in either academic or vocational training.
All facilities have adult education programs that offer both adult basic education and GED preparation. Inmates are given the opportunity to take the GED test if they meet the requirements. Many inmates also participate in volunteer literacy programs.
Thirteen of the institutions also offer vocational training. Program offerings include such courses as barbering, carpentry, cosmetology, culinary arts, masonry, electrical, and career management for success. All vocational programs follow a curriculum approved by the Tennessee Department of Education and provide a Department of Education certificate upon graduation. A select number of vocational programs also offer certification through the Department of Labor and apprenticeships.
GED and Vocational Certificates Earned
GED Certificates Vocational Certificates 2007-2008 786 1,342 2008-2009 727 1,468 2009-2010 710 1,585 2010-2011 806 1,476 2011-2012 652 3,869*
*This number increased due to the addition of a 12 week Introduction to Career Management For Success/Release For Success class.