Tennessee Lawmakers to Focus on Prisoner Re-entry Reforms

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Justice reforms will likely be a key focus in the next session of the Tennessee legislature, predicts State Rep. Mark Cochran.

Cochran said legislators will focus on how people who are currently incarcerated will transition back into society when they are finally released, The Gallatin News reports.

“[Legislators will] look at programs to make sure that, once they paid their debt to society, they can transition back into society as effective citizens,” he said.

Policy groups on the right and the left have called for legislation to address issues like court costs and barriers to reentry.

But some reformers worry whether the reforms under consideration will go far enough.

At a conference organized by a prison ministry group last fall, advocates discussed leading challenges to the state’s justice system, WPLN News reported.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall says he spends most of his time as a law enforcement official arguing with skeptics of criminal justice reform. So he tells the hundreds of advocates in the room it’s encouraging to have a governor, corporations and nonprofits who agree on the need for improvement.

“Shame on us, if we don’t take advantage of that.”

Hall says he also wants to address mental illness, addiction and what he described as a “spiritual void” among offenders.

The conference was put together by the faith-based group Men of Valor. Gov. Bill Lee used to serve on their board and has made criminal justice reform a focal point of his agenda.

See also: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Will Review Criminal Justice Policy 

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