FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/11/2020
Contact: David Safavian
American Conservative Union
American Conservative Union Backs Community Corrections Reforms in Tennessee
“Common-Sense, Conservative, and Effective,” Says ACU’s General Counsel
Alexandria, VA – The American Conservative Union released a statement applauding the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of Senate Bill 2195, the Alternatives to Incarceration Act. Developed by Governor Bill Lee’s Criminal Justice Task Force, these conservative reforms will allow the state to more effectively manage the 58,000 Tennesseans currently on probation.
Explained Pat Nolan, the Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Nolan Center for Justice: “Those who break the law must be held accountable for their actions. At the same time, the justice system must be accountable to the taxpayers and improve the safety of our communities. Legislation proposed by GOP Senator Jack Johnson (91% ACUF lifetime rating) would accomplish all of these goals.”
ACU general counsel David Safavian noted: “The Volunteer State is ranked as having the most conservative legislature in the country by our Foundation’s Center for Legislative Accountability. So it comes as no surprise that elected leaders in Nashville are moving swiftly to enact conservative public safety reforms in partnership with Governor Lee. And they should be applauded for it.”
Probation is a crucial tool to hold people accountable, but it has a point of diminishing returns. Unnecessarily long probation terms for non-violent offenders make it nearly impossible to re-integrate into society, hold a good job, and lead a crime free life. Indeed, the American Probation and Parole Association has pointed out that “low risk offenders are more likely to recidivate with too much correctional intervention rather than no intervention. In most cases, the shorter time a low risk offender is on probation, the better.”
SB 2195 would place a cap on the length of probation terms at eight years for most crimes and implement a more uniform system of graduated sanctions for “technical violations.” These are critical upgrades to the Tennessee system.
Technical violations are not new crimes, but rather minor mistakes such as being late for an appointment with a parole officer, crossing county lines, or applying for a credit card. Studies show that immediate and proportional sanctions for technical violations are more effective in reducing crime than simply returning an offender to prison for their first slip-up.
SB 2195 would also give judges discretion to consider alternatives to incarceration for certain low-level crimes by utilizing specialized courts for those suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues.
“These are common-sense, conservative and effective reforms that have worked in other states. Enactment of SB 2195 will be a win for taxpayers, a win for safe neighborhoods, and a win for Tennessee’s criminal justice system,” said ACU’s Safavian.
# # #