Volunteers go into Tennessee’s 14 state prisons on their own time and expense to work with roughly 20,000 inmates and take the message that prison doesn’t have to be the last chapter in a life story, The Tennessean reports. Volunteers go into county jails as well.
The vast majority of prison and jail volunteers come from churches and faith-based organizations, says Tennessee Prisons Religious Services Director Ron Turner. Most prisoners re-enter society. The average prison sentence is about 4.5 years, and 96 percent of inmates are released in their lifetime. More than half, 53.6 percent, don't return. Former death-row inmate Gaile Owens, recently released, will return as a volunteer because “I feel a responsibility to give back to those who have given so much to me,” she said.