Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 7, 2020

Coonrod urges inmates to use their time in jail ‘wisely’

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod encourages female inmates at Silverdale to build a better future for themselves. - Photo by Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Public Relations

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod visited Silverdale Detention Facility on Jan. 31 to speak with female participants in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office’s reentry program.

Coonrod shared how her environment and family’s struggles led her to crime. “I was a frequent resident of Silverdale and eventually served time in a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida,” she said.

While in federal prison, the councilwoman took advantage of the courses and resources available to her. By the time she was released, she was determined to create a better life for herself and her five children, she said.

Coonrod took a job at Pilgrim’s Pride in Chattanooga and was quickly promoted to a quality control position. A few years later, Volkswagen hired her as a contractor.

Coonrod held these jobs while attending Chattanooga State Community College. Later, she enrolled in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in sociology and minored in criminal justice.

The councilwoman said she was not satisfied with simply working her way up the ladder of success; she wanted to give back to her community. So, she became involved in initiatives geared toward creating opportunities and improving living conditions for local residents.

As Coonrod worked on these initiatives, she came to believe her talents would be better utilized in a political position. After working to regain her rights – including the right to vote – she ran for Chattanooga City Council and won.

Coonrod plans to continue her political efforts by running for state senate.

The councilwoman ended her talk by encouraging the women of Silverdale to believe in their abilities and talents.

“Use your time at Silverdale wisely by taking advantage of the courses and resources they’re providing and distance yourselves from friends and family members who could possibly cause you to relapse,” she said. “Start making these changes now so your transition back into society can go easier.”

HCSO public relations manager Matt Lea said the HCSO’s reentry program plays a critical part in helping inmates transition from incarceration into society. “Our reentry program focuses on helping inmates navigate the difficulties of finding safe and affordable housing, stable employment and educational opportunities,” he says.

Led by Wendy Harris, the HCSO’s reentry program focuses on many different aspects of inmate growth, including money management, drug and alcohol recovery, the restoration of rights and family reunification.

Source: Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office