Music City Community Court and Urban League launch program for ex-offenders

Judge Rachel Bell and Urban League Middle Tennessee partners at a C.A.R.E. meeting.

Judge Rachel Bell and Urban League Middle Tennessee partners at a C.A.R.E. meeting. (courtesy photo)

Judge Rachel L. Bell and the General Sessions Music City Community Court, Division VIII will launch C.A.R.E in partnership with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee in January 2018. C.A.R.E. is the acronym for the pilot program, which ‘Creates Avenues for Restoration and Empowerment.’ This program is offered to ex-offenders who successfully terminate or have their probation dismissed.

“C.A.R.E. is a very much needed program for ex-offenders that need a leg-up after they have completed the terms and conditions of the sentences they have pled to. Justice to me is restoration, not mere punishment in efforts to help the numerous offenders who are in need of basic life skills and help getting a job and keeping it. The partnership with The Urban League of Middle Tennessee is going to be amazing. It is important to ensure ex-offenders not only complete their probation successfully, but also are restored after they have served their time. A criminal record can make it difficult for an individual to find housing and a job. Justice does not stop at the courthouse steps,” said Judge Bell.

All referrals to this program come directly from the court and will be the first of its kind in Nashville to help individuals get back on their feet. In addition to referrals coming directly from the court, the ex-offenders will be held accountable by Judge Bell, her probation staff, the Urban League of Middle Tennessee and the ‘Helping Hands’ program.

The pilot program is being funded by a grant from the First Tennessee Bank Foundation to assist people with workforce development, financial literacy and life skills. Judge Bell and Shawn Sanders, the Workforce Development manager for the Urban League started brainstorming and working on this program in 2015 and are elated to finally see C.A.R.E. come to fruition. The ex-offenders will go through a 12-week program that includes mentorship from C.A.R.E. advocates along with students from the Tennessee State University Middle-Tennessee Collaborative Master’s of Social Work program to ensure their successful completion of the program.

“This is a new and exciting effort to bring holistic case management/employment services and training to those who are completing their probationary period,” said Sanders.

The goal of C.A.R.E. is to ensure that the participants become employed, secure housing and an individualized plan for their success for proper re-entry back into society.

“The Urban League of Middle Tennessee is excited to partner with Judge Rachel Bell and the GSMCCC to launch the C.A.R.E. program. It is our focus to continue our efforts in empowering communities while changing lives,” said Urban League President/CEO of Middle Tenn. Clifton E. Harris.

For additional informat-ion, contact Judge Bell at Davidson County General Sessions Court or the Middle Tennessee Urban League.