Truth In Sentencing — TN we see who you and America are….

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The number one way America continues to show marginalized, underserved cities what they think of us, our families and will never let us forget how they tried to pull us up by our boot strap is through the criminal (un)justice system, mental health systems, the Economic System, healthcare system, housing, and this is not the exhaustive list. And on top of all of these issues to address in positive ways a law is past that will cost tax payers $40–80 million dollars a year. That $40 million can be put to better use then locking someone away for life.

“You can protect criminals, or you can protect victims. I stand with victims, as do members of law enforcement, our district attorneys, & criminal judges across Tennessee,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said in a Twitter statement. And just because you make it a cut and dry saying we protect the criminal. Why because we don’t want out family put in jail for life? Because we want our families to not give up or lose hope that we live in a state filled with opportunities to say they are sorry, they won’t do it again and why. I have laid out some of the legislation that should have given you pause.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” Thomas Jefferson. Truth in Sentencing is penalizing progress, change and hope. How? By saying they don’t mean anything at all. And I see changes in us all on a daily basis. We do not always have to be reactive especially if we have proactive programs in place.

The other ironic question is why did Governor Lee leave the bill open for passing as he could have just Vetoed it. Both the pot and the kettle are black. Both the pencil and the marker are on the same piece of paper. I have thousands of ways to say birds of a feather flock together and we can see you all. I voted for Gov Lee for two reasons. He never did attack ads, which apparently he was waiting to attack once elected, and MM did a television ad for him. He is a good man and I don’t know him well I couldn’t imagine not trust his judgement. You probably have not seen him since you became the Governor.

I want the man in the ads to do what he promised.

House Speaker Sexton has never met the victims who this system turns into violent criminals. They are all victims at the end of the day. As a people, we must never throw anyone totally away and that is what this bill does. It also speaks to a louder issue that Tennessee legislators have “ they are they have an opinion about experiences they have not had” and it is very dangerous. In fact, serving 85% of a 55-year sentence isn’t long enough? The family and their kids become the victims as well. The victim of the crime is not the only victim. This bill removes all hope from the lives of all the victims. In fact, victims really want an apology and a changed person who becomes productive. This bill is not for the victims at all.

When will we realize we can’t lock up everybody for everything. Before pushing this bill how many death row inmates did you go talk to? How many times have you even visited Riverbend Prison? How many families did you break bread with? What exactly did you do that convinced you that this was the right direction for Tennesseans? Thank God we still have time to be proactive.

How many visits did you take to TN’s zip code 37208, which is the most incarcerated zip code in the nation?

How many times have you sat down with the leaders at the Department of Children's Service?

Have you visited the facility that is currently in crisis in West Tennessee?

Have you visited with Alternative Schools to see ways they may be revamped so that we have better outcome measures?

How many times in the last 5 years have funding increased or programs started to decrease the chance of the crime ever happening?

What did you do?

Did you sit down with the Brookings Institute which did the study in North Nashville?

Did you look at the Vocational Education Act of 1963 to see how that might be impactful?

Did you sit down with any behavioral health providers, police officers, or the many organizations that are dedicated to the work of decreasing crime but starving for funding?

Did you look at any of the federal funding available to do something other than keep them locked up?

Did you watch Gov Lee’s interview with the founder of the Woodson Center whose purpose is to lead this very charge?

Well, what did you do?

Well, I did most of the above because when someone’s life is impacted longterm decision should be made not because it sounds good but because it is necessary and every road has been exhausted. I also agreed to sit on a board called ROAR (Reaching Out Accepting Responsibility) whose very mission is to divert children from the path of violence and to save its community.

$40 million of tax payer dollars will pay for more of the same. Give the money to innovators because one size does not fit all as mandatory minimums is helping us learn.

I had faith in House Bill 1562 whose primary sponsor is Rep Dan Howell’s but under pressure from his peers, he decided to withdraw it. According to yahoo.com, the bill would have some state prison inmates sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder seek parole after serving 25 years instead of 51 years. Do you mean we can't even look at their progress? Damn!!!! Howell did have some words of wisdom, “Our criminal justice system must be balanced with accountability and a path for redemption,”

But even more so who gave us the right to take away someone’s hopes. Prison is supposed to be a way of taking people who are a danger to society out of the community. You forget the rest of the sentence. Until they are no longer a danger to society. Discipline does not require incarceration.

Stop playing God. Even God gave everyone, and I do mean everyone even Satan a chance to redeem themselves. This law is not making our community any safer than not. And I don’t know any victim who would not want to see the transformation. We just don’t want anything like the crime they committed done to anyone else.

Meanwhile:

Pregnant women who are incarcerated are still put in restraints to have their babies. “They don’t deserve it” and“That is not what they get”. Make this illegal. Examples of why legislation should do away with placing women who are in custody in restraints…. Indiana, I am so proud that your Governor, signed the HEA 1294 into law making it illegal to shackle women giving birth while incarcerated. Tennessee can’t be pro-life and let this law stand.

Cocaine and crack cocaine are still sentenced differently. This is wrong and when brought up we just ignore it. “Thirty-five years of the most discriminatory policy in federal law is enough,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring, whose organization opposes mandatory minimum sentencing.

Plea bargains which 97% of the incarcerated. Now does that even should like a fair and just statement. 97% don’t go to trial. Why? When you don’t take the plea bargain you are punished severely. This is common street talk. Federal prosecutors should not take issue when a person charged with a crime wants a trial. It is a protected part of the criminal justice system and if we think of no other reason but for the Khalil Browder case, retaliation in the criminal justice center should be criminal. This man was left in jail for 3 years for asking for a trial, he was in jail because he couldn’t afford the bail. He is in jail because no one checked on his case, not even his attorney, case manager or the facility.

Three strikes you are out Law. I have heard so many stories of dusting yourself off and trying again. Oh, youngster, you tried to tie that shoestring 3 times and you DO NOT GET ANOTHER CHANCE.

Mandatory minimums. One size does not fit all. Why are judges and juries asked to participate in the process if they do not have the power to consider circumstances? Tennesseans realize that circumstances matter why in the world, don’t you? FAMM President Kevin Ring’s organization opposes mandatory minimum sentencing, as well.

Prison Labor is used to make billions of dollars to the benefit of governments which is an incentive to change this law and it is outrageous. You could at least send money to their children/families. Make phone calls free to families who can afford it. Donate to criminal justice advocacy groups.

Prison/Jail phone calls are expensive barriers to family support systems. It is the families or children who suffer. Taxpayers suffer as well. Correctional staff suffers, Administrators, suffer. Seems every one suffers but law makers. Government contracts with them and although they make enough on the contract itself, families have to pay for calls, and it all seems so sinister. At least one jail charges $12.00 per 15 minute phone call, now we all know that is outrageous.

I will land my plane here. I do not want to live in a society where it doesn’t consider the least restrictive punishment. Oh you remember the man Browder who served 3 years in jail because he was accused of stealing a backpack. Well he didn’t steal the backpack and 2 weeks out of jail he hung himself.