Two of Governor Bill Lee’s criminal justice reform initiatives were passed unanimously by the Tennessee Senate on Wednesday. Once approved by the governor, the bills will expand community-based incarceration alternatives and parole eligibility, respectively.
The sponsors on the legislation were State Senators John Stevens (R-Huntington) for the former bill and Ken Yager (R-Kingston) for the latter. State Representative Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) was the House sponsor for both.
On Thursday, the Tennessee House passed a bill increasing parole eligibility and reducing parole violation punishments for inmates. The “Reentry Success Act of 2021” creates a presumption that eligible inmates must be granted parole on their eligibility date.
Additionally, parole violations that aren’t felonies or Class A misdemeanors would result in 15 days’ imprisonment for the first violation, 30 days for the second, 90 days for the third, and either one year or the remainder of the prisoner’s sentence for the fourth – whichever is the shorter of the two. Other changes to present law under the Reentry Success Act of 2021 include clarification that victims may submit videos for their victim impact statements, and waiving certain application costs for restricted drivers licenses. Felonies or Class A misdemeanors committed as part of parole violation would require prisoners to serve out the maximum of their sentence.