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Tennessee jail training inmates to become barbers when they're released

Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 10, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The barbershop at a jail in Tennessee is both a place to get a haircut and a classroom.

The state requires someone to train for 1,500 hours in a registered barber school before they can take the master barber exam.

In Davidson County's Male Correctional Development Center, inmates can acquire those hours.

"When you come to the school, the first thing you learn is anatomy — the structure of the face, and with guys, they learn they have to do manicures, and they're like I have to do manicures to cut hair? But that's part of the curriculum," said barber instructor Jeff Moore Sr.

The barber class has been offered in jail for a few years. Getting to 1,500 hours is hard to do, but inmates who commit to seven or eight-hour days, five days a week are finding it's possible.

"It's just showing me that I can do more than just the basics," said Christopher Cannon, a student who's reached 1,500 hours. "I think that's what this program is — you seeing something more than what you really are."

Eight men have accumulated the hours that they need to take the final test. There are three who are close.

"When you see that 50-year-old saying 'I need to do something with my life, I need to make a change,' and they thank you and they really thank you, that kind of means a lot," Moore said.

The jail's next step is to make the exam available in the facility, so upon release, the men can start at a job right away.

This story was originally reported by Hannah McDonald on

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