Gov. Lee tours Gibson County’s ‘Orchard House’ program

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee made a stop in West Tennessee to see one program’s impact on the criminal justice system.

Gov. Lee spoke to a group of Gibson County leaders at the Orchard House, a rehabilitation facility for inmates in the Gibson County Jail.

“We find them employment, we provide their medical needs here, we provide their housing, their meals, their transportation to and from work, help them pay off fines, court costs, back child support,” Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas said.

“Even though we’re inmates, even though we’re at-risk people, we have the want to change,” Orchard House worker Daniel Herrera said.

The Orchard House helps inmates who want to improve their lives, while also bringing an economic benefit for the county.

“I go to them, and I ask them to hire men that are inmates, and they look at me like I’m funny,”  Thomas said. “Then I show them my plan and our business model, and I get these companies to take a chance on me and take a chance on these men.”

Thomas said the men need help, which they can get through the Orchard House program.

“Some of it’s minor, but the biggest part of it is just money. They owe the courts money. They owe the courts a lot of money, and they can’t keep up with it because they can’t find employment,” Thomas said.

Gov. Lee met with a group of inmates and workers Monday to talk about how the Orchard House helps them transition back into the community.

Daniel Herrera came to the Gibson County jail after being charged with assault. Now, he’s working with the Orchard House and has a new outlook on life.

“I get the ability and the chance to change. So, what I really wanted to show him is, it’s not the building. It’s the people that surround us,” Herrera said. “There’s a lot of work that we’ve done and with all hard work, it will pay off in the end, so it’s nothing but positive things in the future.”

Gov. Lee told the group that programs like the Orchard House help to support his statewide goal of rehabilitating inmates.

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