Brooke Spivey

  • Hosted by Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee
  • Sponsored by International Paper
  • Service location Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Law school University of Tennessee College of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Launch a federal civil reentry program addressing legal obstacles to employment, housing, and voting for federal offenders on probation in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Tennessee has several reentry statutes that offer people with convictions a second chance, yet these processes are difficult to understand and navigate without legal guidance. Through the reentry project, Brooke develops an individualized plan for each client, identifying civil legal impediments to successful reentry and applying for relevant eligible relief. Additionally, she is petitioning for Certificates of Employability, representing participants in housing hearings, and aiding in the restoration of their voting rights.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Brooke has:

  • Launched the federal civil reentry program with 12 participants with anticipated graduation in October 2021
  • Created an individualized plan for each program participant based on their reentry needs
  • Hosted training for mentors in the program on topics including mental health, substance abuse, and employment advising for providing aid to the participants
  • Met regularly with program participants and provide robust legal advice and assistance as needed
  • Developed partnerships with community organizations and agencies to provide services to participants

Next Steps

In the next year, Brooke plans to:

  • Petition the local circuit court for certificates of employability
  • Continue to develop partnerships with community organizations and agencies to provide services to participants, creating official partnerships with at least three organizations
  • Begin the formal process to restore participants right to vote
  • Develop materials on services and opportunities in the community, including GED programs, job fairs, agencies, affordable housing, and educational programs
  • Plan graduation for the current 12 participants
  • Start the 2021 reentry class expansion with anticipated 24 new participants


Graduate launches project to assist offenders reenter society

Spivey Awarded Fellowship to Launch Reentry Program

As an East Tennessee native, I have seen and witnessed within my own family the struggles of an offender returning back to society after incarceration. This program is a great opportunity to combine my personal and legal experiences to assist not only the reentry participants but ultimately the community as a whole.

Brooke Spivey /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Sponsor: Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilities, Inc., The Florida Bar Foundation