Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Courts Join Effort to Build Strong Framework for Criminal Justice Reform

December 19, 2019

The Tennessee judiciary applauded the release of the state’s first comprehensive criminal justice reform package today.  Governor Bill Lee’s Criminal Justice Investment Task Force released the comprehensive package of data-driven policy recommendations for upcoming legislative sessions that seek to improve public safety, increase reentry support and reduce recidivism, address unmet behavioral health needs and make Tennessee communities safer. 

“I commend the task force for its work developing this strong package of recommendations,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. “Today marks an important step in the ongoing effort to improve outcomes in Tennessee’s criminal justice system, and I look forward to the continuation of this work during the upcoming legislative session and beyond.”

Former Court of Appeals Judge Brandon Gibson, now a senior advisor to the governor, leads the Criminal Justice Investment Task Force Steering Committee, and Judge John Campbell, a criminal court judge in Memphis, is chair of the Sentencing and Criminal Code Subcommittee. Other judges working on subcommittees include: Judge Kyle Atkins, Judge Tim Easter, Judge Alex McVeagh, Judge Shane Sexton, Judge Duane Slone, Judge Stacy Street, and Judge Steven Sword.

“The Administrative Office of the Courts is ready to dive in and work diligently to implement  much-needed criminal justice reform in our state,” said Deborah Taylor Tate, AOC Administrative Director. “Over the past several years, we have modernized numerous court processes and programs, including specialty courts and dockets, expungement clinics, e-filing and training regarding substance abuse disorders that complement comprehensive criminal justice reform. We are poised to assist these efforts to identify more data-driven solutions.

“We thank former Judge Gibson and Judge Campbell for their hard work in developing the comprehensive package of recommendations, as well as other members of the judiciary who provided insight and thought leadership,” Tate said.

In March 2019, Governor Bill Lee established the Criminal Justice Investment Task Force to examine challenges within Tennessee’s criminal justice system. In partnership with Chief Justice Bivins, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and House Speaker-Designate Cameron Sexton, the Governor charged the Task Force with developing solutions to strengthen public safety through smarter, more deliberate polices grounded in the state’s corrections data. The Task Force engaged in a five-month study of Tennessee’s sentencing and corrections system, which involved analyzing data, evaluating innovative policies and programs at key decision points, reviewing research on what works to reduce recidivism and developing comprehensive and tailored recommendations.

To review the full recommendations, please visit: https://www.tn.gov/governor/priorities/criminal-justice-investment-task-force.html