Judson Phillips Commentary: Bill Lee Strikes Out Again

by Judson Phillips


In October, something that has been very underreported happened.  It is something that Tennesseans should know about and be very worried about.

One of Governor Bill Lee’s pet objectives is criminal justice reform.  In October, while speaking to the GOP Senate Republican Caucus, Lee said, “We can empty our jails in the same way that some other states have done. I know we can do that.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

As a part of criminal justice reform, Bill Lee wants to “empty our jails.”  Jails and prisons are there for a reason and there is a certain part of the population that has committed horrible crimes, that belongs in prison.  People who are a threat to society or are unlikely to show up for their court date stay in jail.

Do we really want to follow the lead of other states with criminal justice “reform?”

In New York, they have criminal justice reform and it is a revolving door at the jail house.  Criminals arrested with lengthy records and histories of not appearing in court, are released without bail.  New York’s communist Mayor Bill de Blasio has resorted to giving away Mets tickets and gift cards to incentivize the criminals to show up in court.  In New York, criminals commit a crime, are arrested, immediately released again under their no-bail law and commit another crime. One criminal said, after his fifth arrest under the no-bail law, “I’m surprised you let me out again.”

In California, property crimes are almost not prosecuted.  It is a common even now to see gangs walk into stores and run out with armfuls of expensive clothing or consumer electronics, knowing they will never be prosecuted.

Taylor Budowich works for President Trump’s reelection campaign.  At Christmas, his girlfriend had $5,000 worth of luggage stolen from her car in Sacramento, California.  The criminals were even caught on video, with enough clarity to read the car’s license plate.  The Sacramento Sheriff told Budowich that nothing could be done because the criminals were from Oakland and Oakland does not “pursue property crimes.”

In San Francisco, people urinate and defecate in the streets and even in stores, because the laws are not enforced.  And now there is a new wave of “social justice” district attorneys being elected in major cities, who are more interested in not prosecuting crimes than they are in enforcing the laws of the state.

Tennessee has a robust criminal code.  It is not perfect and there are certain things that could be changed. For example, the best reform Tennessee could enact is returning the power to sentence to the jury.

Prior to 1982, in Tennessee, if a jury found someone guilty of a crime, the jury, not the judge imposed the sentence.  In 1982, the state legislature (then controlled by Democrats), “reformed” the system to make sentencing more “consistent.”  That was left speak for making sentences lighter.

The United States has lived through an era of empty the jails. It was in the 60’s and 70’s.  Liberals emptied America’s jails and the result was the tough on crime 80’s and 90’s.  There was a reason harsh sentencing laws were passed in both the 80’s and 90’s.

It was a response to the very policies Bill Lee advocates now.

Bill Lee ran on being a conservative and a lot of the movement conservatives in this state went along for the ride. Now in office, Lee is either the most tone-deaf “conservative” to sit in the governor’s mansion or he isn’t really a conservative.

A lot of Tennessee conservatives are starting to believe the latter.

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Judson Phillips is a long time conservative pundit and founder of Tea Party Nation.






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12 Thoughts to “Judson Phillips Commentary: Bill Lee Strikes Out Again”

  1. Dwayne Oxford

    What’s sad is Conservatives who can’t/wont see the prison punishment system only works for lawyers and probation/prison industry.
    Until we bring back effective punishments we jus’gonna have more and more trouble.
    Maybe sadder is “Christians” who’re OK with da’gubmint robbing and penning up folks for exercising their God given herbal freedom. Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every, EVERY!! herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and(also) every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous

    Bill Lee is just like his friend the old Kentucky Governor Bevins who recently released and pardoned rapists and murderers. Bill Lee is an absolute traitor to the conservatives of TN and now he’s rolling out these new abortion bans to try to gain back some support. Too late! The whole state knows Lee is human excrement. I hope and pray someone primaries his liberal A$$ at the next election. His staff won’t even respond to questions or new inquiries; it’s amateur hour at the governors mansion. Get him out!

  3. William R. Delzell

    Some people do belong in jail, including some major CORPORATE criminals like those who caused the 2008 meltdown that threw a lot of law-abiding people out of work and their homes along with those who commit violent crimes or the televangelists who defraud their flock into shelling their hard-earned fixed incomes to subsidize obscenely rich lifestyles of these evangelist preachers and their families. I don’t hear any so-called “law ‘n’ order” or so-called “victims’ rights” advocates advocating throwing the book at the corporate criminals, only against the street thugs, most of whom do not have the wealth and power of the corporate big shots. When you throw the book at crooks like Jimmy Lee Swagert and that Osteen fellow, only then will I believe that you are serious about law and order.

    Other people in prison do NOT belong there: such as the drug user who minds his or her own business and who does NOT sell drugs to minors; the person who passes a bad check; or the peaceful protester who resorts to civil disobedience against unjust laws. Tennessee has several unjust laws such as homophobic laws, prohibitions against personal use by adults of marijuana, being homeless against one’s will, etc.

    Let’s use our prison ONLY for those men and women who DO pose a threat to society by either committing violent acts or who defraud large numbers of law-abiding citizens. When the Tea Party Republicans start going after corporate criminals with the same zeal that they do in pursuing the indigent, only then will I believe that they are TRUE victims’ rights advocates, and not before!

    1. Shannon Parton

      Well said William I agree 100%. Corporate criminals how destroyed many lives, rapist, murderers, child killers, street thugs, violent criminals should be prosecuted and jailed to the fullest extent of the law. But people are jailed every day in this state for these ridiculous marijuana laws and for unwilling uncontrollable circumstances. That’s where the burden of housing prisoners could be lifted in Tennessee. Wake up Bill Lee.

  4. Ralph

    Talk to some prison guards – they’ll tell you that there are people in there that had no business being sent there in the first place and, now that they are there, chances are better than even they’ll be back.

    The “system” not only imprisons people unnecessarily, it then never gets off their back. For years, sometimes an entire lifetime afterward, they are hounded and socked with one fee after another for some “program” or another.

    No, it’s a system that needs reform. And, on the other hand, you have that monster who murdered 8 people, including his own parents. His parole officer petitioned to have him sent back, but then dropped the ball in following up on the petition. 6 days later, he committed 7 of those murders. So, what happened to the parole officer? I asked the question and got no answer. None. THAT needs reform even more so.

  5. Pissed Off Nashvillian

    Sure. Fidel Castro “emptied” his jails. Guess who got their criminals?

  6. Give Me Liberty

    Perhaps our turn-coat governor anticipates needing more space in the prisons for his new “refugees” who will no doubt become criminals because most come here to do harm to America anyway. He knows the left will deny our ability to vet them, right?

  7. Wolf Woman

    Buyer’s remorse for conservatives all around the state of Tennessee while the democrats and progressives are celebrating their good luck.

  8. Cannoneer2

    …and if we empty the jails, how is CoreCivic supposed to make money off of the state of Tennessee??

  9. Lance Persson

    The writer of this article is definitely not being objective. The prisons in Tennessee. as well as in our other states are over crowdedl, expensive to build and run, and difficult to manage. The picture that the author has painted would lead you believe that our governor is a bleeding liberal ready to open the gates of hell and release dangerous felons out to prey upon the public. TOTAL nonsense.
    Our governor understands the problem and is willing to look for safe options that can address the problem of overcrowded prisons. I would like to see an article that carefully identifies the problems and provides alternatives to resolve the problem.

  10. Julie

    Part of his strategy for prison reform is to reduce the prison population most likely. I hope he plans to get feedback regarding who he wants to release but I am not holding my breath.