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

Brooke will launch a federal civil reentry program addressing legal obstacles of employment, housing, and restoring voting rights for federal offenders on probation in the Eastern District of Tennessee. 

Over the past 20 years, the number of federal offenders serving a term of post-prison supervised release in the U.S. has nearly tripled to approximately 115,000.  Nearly half of these individuals will be rearrested—most within the first two years after release. The 800 federal offenders serving a term of supervision in the Eastern District of Tennessee, approximately 43% will have that supervision revoked. The 88% of federal offenders identified as high risk will have their supervised release revoked. 

Many jurisdictions mitigate recidivism through reentry courts which provide intensive supervision and treatment for offenders. These courts help offenders reenter society and avoid reincarceration by targeting factors that contribute to an offender’s risk of recidivism. These factors surround employment, housing, and the restoration of fundamental rights, such as the right to vote.  While these issues are vital to successful reentry, they are considered civil issues. As such, there is no constitutional right for an offender to have the assistance of legal counsel to address these issues. 

Fellowship Plans

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 will develop an individualized plan for each client, by identifying the civil legal impediments and applying for relevant eligible relief. Additionally, she will be petitioning for Certificates of Employability, representing participants in housing hearings, and aiding in the restoration of their voting rights. 


Graduate launches project to assist offenders reenter society

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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