Tennessee lawmakers plan to tackle criminal justice reform in current session

Some want to make it easier to get out of prison for nonviolent crimes, other’s want to get rid of early release programs for certain offenses.
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:15 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee lawmakers shared one of the topics they plan to discuss in the upcoming session is the need for criminal justice reform.

Some lawmakers want to shorten sentences for nonviolent crimes like drug possession, property crimes and fraud. Representative Sam McKenzie from District 15 said the state incarcerates too many citizens for too long. He wants state agencies, like the Corrections Department, to look back and adjust sentences.

“But the the the punishment needs to fit the crime, especially for these nonviolent offenses. There are people that are serving decades and decades, but these nonviolent offenses, and I firmly believe, if there were sentence today, that would be given a lot lighter sentence,” said McKenzie.

Other lawmakers, like House Speaker Cameron Sexton, want to get rid of early release programs to let people out on parole for good behavior. It’s called truth in sentencing, which keeps offenders form getting out early because of good behavior programs. Sexton want to protect the victims of those crimes.

“Don’t think anybody’s gonna disagree that if somebody does aggravated robbery on you, which is they use a weapon or force on you, that we should go light on. That’s a serious crime. And so I think we can agree on the more horrific, the hardened crimes that there should be some truth in sentencing,” said Sexton.

You can look at upcoming bills here.

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