A liberal and conservative group that usually find themselves on the opposite end of most issues of public policy have joined forces to address what they describe as needed reforms to the justice system.
The Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the most liberal groups in the country on most issues, and The Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s well respected and leading conservative think tank, along with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries, among others, have formed the non-partisan Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice, which last week released their “Blueprint for a Sensible Justice System” to each of the gubernatorial candidates in the running for the Volunteer State’s highest elected office.
“The Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice sent its 2018 “Blueprint for a Sensible Justice System” to all Tennessee gubernatorial candidates this week. The blueprint outlines recommended reforms to the criminal justice system to enhance public safety and save taxpayers money,” the group’s statement began, adding:
The blueprint calls on the next governor to adopt reforms in the areas of:
- Public safety, including reducing crime rates and recidivism through mental health and addiction training for law enforcement and incentive-based funding for corrections, parole and probation;
- Taxpayer protection, through reservation of limited prison space for violent offenders and reinvestment of cost savings into alternative programs for nonviolent offenders with mental health and substance abuse disorders;
- Juvenile justice system reform, such as uniform diversion policies that limit juvenile interaction with the criminal justice system for minor infractions and improve outcomes through partnerships with community-based programs;
- Workforce readiness and re-entry preparation, such as education and job training programs, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and the removal of barriers to obtaining good jobs for those leaving incarceration; and
- Transparency and accountability, including outcome-based metrics to better measure the success or failure of various components of the criminal justice system, transparency in sentencing and regular audits of the system.
The coalition urged gubernatorial candidates to “embrace and advocate for these important principles to create an effective criminal justice system that ensures victims are protected and their rights restored, communities are made safer, taxpayer resources are spent wisely, and those leaving prison are becoming productive members of their communities.”
The nonpartisan Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice was launched in 2016 to enhance public safety, promote rehabilitation and re-entry, and save taxpayers money. The coalition’s founding organizations, representing a broad ideological spectrum, include the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, Goodwill Industries, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee County Services Association.
The full ‘Blueprint’ may be viewed here: