Criminal Justice Program awarded $320,000 grant to expand program, provide training

Jul 6th, 2023

The Jackson State Community (JSCC) Criminal Justice program has been awarded $320,000 of a larger $30 million state grant. This money will provide students greater access to state-of-the-art technology, enhance hands-on training, and better prepare students for the workforce.

The grant, provided through a state initiative by Governor Bill Lee following the announcement of the state’s Violent Crime Intervention Fund in 2022, aims to provide funding to higher education institutions to create highly qualified candidates for law-enforcement positions to keep Tennessee’s community’s safe. As part of the grant’s focus, funding will help to provide skilled pathways from higher education institutions directly to law enforcement positions throughout Tennessee.

Jackson State Community College was selected as one of four community colleges across the state to receive funding and has since secured a state-of-the-art Multiple Interactive Learning Objectives (MILO) scenario training simulator along with a 1:1 scale training jail cell and additional training equipment. These acquisitions will allow the Criminal Justice program to better provide real-world hands-on training to its students to prepare them to confidently work through situations routinely experienced on the job.

“Through this grant, the technology and equipment we have been able to acquire will allow us to prepare students for the workforce better than ever before, said Karen Perrin, Chair of Communications and Social Science and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice. “Putting students in real-life scenarios forces them to rely on their training instead of their natural fight or flight instincts. We are ensuring our students will be assets in their career fields, and that starts with giving them the right tools to excel.”

Perrin, a U.S. Navy Veteran and former probation and correctional officer has revamped the Criminal Justice program since her hire in 2019, taking the program from less than 20 students to over 130 students this Fall. This grant serves as additional reinforcement in the efforts already underway by Perrin.

To better serve the local areas need for skilled applicants, the Criminal Justice program has unveiled a 16-credit hour Correctional Officer Technical Certificate that can be completed in as little as one semester. This certificate provides the needed knowledge and training to immediately enter the workforce in less than a year as a Tennessee Correctional Institution certified jailer. To reinforce the certificate’s career path post-graduation, the program has expanded its relationships with local law enforcement agencies looking to fill critical positions. Local agencies have provided input on the certificate’s curriculum to better tailor the training and knowledge to what is currently needed and based on projected future needs. This certificate program will also serve local agencies as a program their current jailers can go through to earn their certification.

“Our Criminal Justice program is one of the many shining gems here at Jackson State, as a result of the tireless efforts of Karen Perrin and the unwavering support of our partner agencies,” said Dr. Jennifer Lopes, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “This grant will not only allow program expansion but also ensure our students are better prepared for a very demanding job field that requires the utmost excellence in their day-to-day duties.”

The Correctional Officer Technical Certificate will be headed up by Tommy Cepparulo, a former Jackson Police Department officer with over a decade of experience on the force in addition to 14 years of teaching experience at Lexington High School as a Criminal Justice Teacher.

Local agencies have also been given access to the technology and equipment purchased through the grant for training purposes at no cost to the agency. Through these training exercises, the program can further assess and implement current training methodologies being utilized by its partnered agencies into the current curriculum, allowing for a near-seamless transition for students into the workforce.

To learn more about the Criminal Justice program, visit


Back to JSCC News Archives