Work Release Programs by Counties

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All counties in the state, except as set forth below, may institute a work release program in accordance with the provisions of Title 41, Chapter 2. T.C.A. § 41-2-133(a).

The provisions of T.C.A. § 41-2-133 do not apply to any county having a population of:

Not less than Nor more than
14,400 14,500
19,500  19,600
20,200 20,300
28,000 28,100
30,400 30,500

according to the 1970 federal census or any subsequent federal census.  T.C.A. § 41-2-133(b). As of 2006, the excepted counties include Bedford, Crockett, Dyer, Haywood, Lauderdale, and Tipton.

Work Release Commission

Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-2-134(a) creates a commission in each county not excepted by T.C.A. § 41-2-133(b) with the authority to authorize prisoners to come under a work release program whenever any person has been committed to the workhouse or similar place of confinement and to approve educational programs established pursuant to T.C.A. § 41-2-145.

The commission as authorized in T.C.A. § 41-2-134 is authorized and empowered to permit prisoners to leave the workhouse during approved working hours to work at a place of employment and to earn a living to meet in whole or in part the cost of the prisoner's current financial obligations. The prisoner must return to the workhouse each day after work and may be released only for related rehabilitative purposes as recommended by the correctional/rehabilitation work release coordinator. T.C.A. § 41-2-134(b).

In Shelby and Davidson Counties, the commission shall be composed of not more than 12 members nor fewer than three members, who shall meet as three-member panels to review and approve applications for work release. In other counties, the commission shall be composed of three members. T.C.A. § 41-2-134(c)(1) and (c)(2).

In all counties:

  1. The sheriff or workhouse superintendent shall appoint the members of the commission subject to the approval of the county legislative body;
  2. Each member shall serve a four-year term; and
  3. A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

T.C.A. § 41-2-134(c)(3).

The commission shall meet weekly or at the call of the sheriff at the sheriff's office. T.C.A. § 41-2-134(d).