The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its inmates with 2.3 million prisoners as of the 2010 Census.  More than half of all male inmates and more than 60% of female inmates, report having children, and 7 in 10 incarcerated parents met the criteria for substance dependence or abuse; many of their children will follow in the footsteps of their parents, thus continuing the cycle of addiction and incarceration. 


In 2014 TENNESSEE had a rate of incarceration of adults 11% higher than the national average and VIRGINIA had a rate 15% higher. By far the majority of inmates in East TN and Southwest VA are imprisoned on drug or drug-related charges. As of December 31, 2014, the Tennessee Dept. of Corrections had an annual budget of $933 million and the Department of Corrections in Virginia had a budget of $1.1 billion. The cost of incarceration is high and not just in dollars. The effects of incarceration are felt across our society.

“Drug use is on the rise in this country and 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That’s approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12.  But only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment. It is staggering and unacceptable that so many Americans are living with an untreated chronic disease and cannot access treatment,” said Dr. Kima Joy Taylor, director of the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) initiative. Unfortunately, instead of getting help for their addiction, many will instead become incarcerated or die.

The Bureau of Justice shows an estimated 6,899,000 were under the supervision of adult correctional systems at the yearend of 2013, about 1 in every 35 adults in the United States. This includes being incarcerated, on probation or parole. 
Now consider which populations disproportionately occupy American prisons: Men under the age of 40, the poorly educated, people with mental illness, and drug and alcohol addicts. This isn’t just a problem for those who are incarcerated, it is an American problem.
Both TN & VA have high recidivism rates; both show more than 45% of the inmates released from state custody are rearrested within a 36 month period, going back through that revolving door due to the lack of an adequate support network, lack of adequate housing and employment opportunities after their release from incarceration.