NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee took steps toward criminal justice reform Monday as Governor Bill Lee signs two new pieces of legislation into law.
The bills were proposed by Governor Lee himself and passed by the state legislature in April.
The first is called the Alternatives to Incarceration Act, and establishes a way for local governments and private organizations to establish community-based alternatives to incarceration.
The bill excludes offenses involving a dangerous weapon and requires courts to give offenders the least restive conditions of release for some low-level offenses.
The bill also caps the timeframe of probation sentences at 10 years for multiple felony offenses. If only one probation sentence is given, the courts can't give more than eight years.
The second bill, called the Re-Entry Success Act, creates mandatory supervision programs for people recently released from prison. The bill will also create programs meant to find former inmates jobs.
Both pieces of legislation will take effect on July 1.
Representative Vincent Dixie was at the announcement today. "I think it’s a small step in the right direction. I think we could have done a lot more for the people of Tennessee."
We asked Governor Lee what the Alternatives to Incarceration Act would look like. “What that looks like is basically day reporting centers, treatment programs that are required as a result of their offense. Many of these folks have mental issues,” The Governor explained.
Advocacy groups like Equity Alliance say they’ll be keeping watch on the implementation of the legislation. "Making sure that there is going to be uniformity when they’re determining what is going to be considered zero-tolerance and what is not going to be zero tolerance," Kendra Lee, the Policy Manager for Equity Alliance said.