Posted on May 27, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee Called His Tennessee Criminal Justice Reforms ‘Monumental.’

Adam Tamburin, Tennessean, May 24, 2021

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday celebrated what he called a “monumental” day for the state and his term, signing two bills tied to his signature cause of criminal justice reform.

Flanked by supporters, Lee formally signed into law measures to divert more people away from state prisons and to expand support services for people who are leaving prisons after serving their sentences.

The governor struck a triumphant tone, saying the new laws would help generations of Tennesseans. {snip}

“People given the chance can turn their lives around if we only have a system and a process that allows them to have that chance,” Lee said.

“This is how we make sure that we save taxpayer dollars. This is how we make sure that we ensure safe neighborhoods. This is how we transform lives.”


One of the new laws is focused on diverting offenders away from state prisons. That measure will expand the group of people eligible for recovery courts, shorten the maximum amount of time someone can be placed on probation, and prevent some people from going back to jail for technical probation violations.

The second new law will ease the requirements for people to be released on parole and will establish more support for inmates who are released from prison.

Lee said his administration would continue to push for more changes in the months and years ahead. The administration is expected to push for broader sentencing reform starting next year.

“This only the first very important step in a process that won’t stop,” Lee said.