Tommy Vallejos Announces Criminal Justice Reform Plan

Oct 7 | Posted by: Tommy Vallejos

If elected, I plan to devote a large amount of my time to criminal justice reform. While I believe that we need to come together and take a large look at our system as a whole, I personally feel strongly about focusing in on what life looks like after prison for inmates and how to best make productive members of our society after they are released. 


Recently, Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky announced that the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet are collaborating on a new apprenticeship pilot project that will seek to match prison inmates and juvenile offenders with skilled jobs as they reenter society. The initiative, called “Justice to Journeyman,” places inmates on track to earn a nationally recognized journeyman credential in a skilled trade, starting with training they receive inside Kentucky prisons. The program will also help former inmates network with employers who have agreed to consider hiring former felons when hiring.


I believe that Tennessee would be a perfect fit for a similar type of program. Our state prisons are full of nonviolent offenders, often incarcerated as juveniles for drug offenses or other crimes that do not make them a threat to society. If we can provide them with the tools necessary to become proud, taxpaying citizens upon release, I am certain that they will be much less likely to return to jail in the future. 


Under Governor Haslam and through leadership at the legislature, Tennessee has made a significant investment in Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, commonly known as TCATs, because they recognized that we need more skilled laborers in our state and because they are high quality, high paying jobs. An inmate program for nonviolent felons that teaches young men and women a trade and then helping them find employment can be the next step in building out this desperately needed workforce. 


Through my work in prison ministry, I understand that there are inmates in facilities that are incapable of rejoining society in this way because of their violent history. I also know for a fact that young men and women are wasting their lives or returning to a life behind bars after they are released simply because they have no reason to be optimistic about their futures. A skilled work program can change that dynamic, save their lives, and save the state money in the long run.

 

Tommy Vallejos was born in the barrios of Roswell, New Mexico.  He lost two brothers and a stepfather to gang violence on the streets that surrounded his young life. In an effort to escape the streets, Tommy joined the United States Army in 1980.

 

Tommy's life further changed on September 7, 1987 when he became a Christian while serving in South Korea.  As a Staff Sergeant in the Army, he fought in the Gulf War leading an infantry platoon from the 101st Airborne Division into combat and was awarded the Bronze Star for Action.  In 1997, while serving in Germany, he and his wife founded the Christian Servicemen Center in Hohenfels.  He retired from the US Army in 2001 as a Sergeant First Class, with over 21 years of service to his country as an Infantryman.

In 2010, Tommy Vallejos became the first Hispanic in Tennessee history to be elected as a County Commissioner. He serves District 14 in Montgomery County, and is in his second four-year term.  Tommy has served on the Montgomery County Commission Budget Committee, the School Liaison Committee, the Personnel Committee, the Rules Committee and the Delinquent Tax Committee.  Tommy currently serves on the following Montgomery County Commission committees:

 

- Airport Authority
- Bi-county Waste Committee
- Budget Committee
- Jail & Juvenile Committee
- Legislative Committee
- Loss Prevention Committee
- Clarksville Economic Development Council

 

During his tenure as President of the Tennessee County Commissioner Association, Tommy represented all ninety-five Tennessee counties in stopping unfunded mandates.

 

In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly honored Tommy Vallejos for his contributions to the local community, including his leadership as the Chairman of Latinos for Tennessee, a local non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility to the Latino community in Tennessee.  

Tommy is also the former Associate Pastor at Faith Outreach Church in Clarksville, and is known for his commitment to stopping gang violence.  He travels around the country teaching gang awareness classes to schools, communities, and churches, and he also counsels and mentors former gang members, helping them become productive members of their communities. Tommy regularly preaches the Gospel to prison inmates, providing hope and restoration to those who feel lost.  He is a graduate of North Tennessee Bible Institute & Seminary with Bachelor of Arts in Practical Theology.

 

Tommy has been married for thirty-five years to the love of his life, Caroline, and they live in Clarksville.  They are the proud parents of four children, and loving grandparents of seven grandchildren.  

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