Former women’s prison to be transitional facility for male inmates in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A former women's prison in Memphis will now be a facility to help offenders transition back into the community.

The Mark Luttrell Transitional Center will soon start taking male inmates and turn them into working members of society.

"The inmates will have to want to be here," said the facility's superintendent Taurean James.

It's a former women's prison now helping men serving time for crimes adjust back to society.

"They'll have programming that's geared towards changing their mindset, getting rid of that criminal behavior," said James.

There will be three phases for the offenders to go through while behind bars.

Instructors with the Tennessee Department of Education will teach them social skills and job skills.

The ultimate goal is for the inmates to be employed before their sentences are up.

"Everything security wise will stay the same," said James.

The Department of Corrections said 95 percent of inmates are released back into the community as it is, so why not help them make money when they're out and keep them from committing more crimes?

"Believe it or not, there's a lot of them in there that really want that, but it's just not offered," said Debbie Jackson who lives in the community. "It's just not."

Sex offenders won't be eligible for the program and inmates will have to show good behavior and a desire to change to get selected.

They're hoping to bring the first offenders there in October with the full facility up and running by this winter or early next year.

There will be 120 inmates with jobs in the community during the last year and a half of their sentences.

Officers will keep tabs on them, and once they're done serving their time, the hope is they'll stick with that job.

"We're empowering offenders not to return to prison," said James. "A lot of offenders you see them, it's like a revolving door, they come back."