Chattanooga Detention Center Offers Parenting Class for Fathers

Fathers incarcerated at Chattanooga’s Silverdale Detention Center now have the opportunity to participate in a four-week course intended to make them better dads, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The program, named 24/7 Dad, addresses basic parenting skills and self-betterment through interactive classes in the detention center, with the local Salvation Army also providing classes and assistance to inmates after release. The Rutherford County Adult Detention Center has a similar successful program for incarcerated mothers, offering parenting classes and increased visits with their children. 

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Gov. Lee Is Unconvinced Regarding Red Flag Laws

Gov. Bill Lee on Monday said that he won’t commit to supporting red flag laws as he is not convinced that it is the best path forward for the state, The Tennessean reports. The laws seek to curb gun violence by authorizing courts to issue special orders of protection, allowing law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from people that a judge rules are a danger to themselves or others. When asked by reporters about his stance on such measures, Lee replied: "I haven't analyzed that option yet … It's early for us to talk about which direction we want to go." Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, in February introduced SB1178 that would allow an extreme risk protection order be filed in General Sessions based on “clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to the respondent or others by possessing a firearm;” however, that bill stalled in the General Assembly. 

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'Second Look Sentencing' Bill Would Allow Review of Inmates Serving 10+ Years

New Jersey U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker recently introduced legislation intended to give federal prisoners a chance at early release, NBC News reports. The bill, known as the Second Look Act, seeks to build on the First Step Act — last year’s bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, which was the most comprehensive update to the system in around three decades. In its current iteration, the Second Look Act would enable individuals sentenced to more than 10 years imprisonment and who have served at least 10 years to petition a court to be released, create a rebuttable presumption of release for petitioners who are 50 years of age or older, establish factors for courts to consider regarding community reentry and mandate the United States Sentencing Commission issue an annual public report detailing efficacy of the law.

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Rutherford Adult Detention Center Facing Another Bunk-Related Lawsuit

The Rutherford County Adult Detention Center (RCADC) is facing another lawsuit involving its bunk beds and denial of medical treatment, the Daily News Journal reports. A federal lawsuit, filed pro se by Angelo Gleaves, maintains that he was injured after his top bunk fell because it was improperly secured, leading to dizziness, pain and migraines. Gleaves also contends that when he notified jail staff of his injuries, he was taunted, denied treatment and suffered physical abuse by employees. A similar lawsuit was filed in April against RCADC by another inmate who was paralyzed after he fell off of a top bunk, despite claims that he notified jail staff of medical conditions that prevented him from being able to use the higher bed. Gleaves seeks $100,000 from the jail and its medical provider for his injuries.

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Senior Advisor Gibson Discusses Plans on Tennessee Criminal Justice Reform

Former Tennessee Court of Appeals and current Senior Advisor to the governor Brandon Gibson shared details regarding the state’s initiative on criminal justice reform to a group in Bradley County, the Cleveland Daily Banner reports. Gibson emphasized the need for such reform, pointing out that Tennessee’s current recidivism rate is just over 46 percent. Among the plans highlighted was the governor’s Tennessee Volunteer Mentorship Initiative, which will partner with existing non-profits to pair inmates with mentors in an effort to prepare them for life following incarceration. "Ninety percent of those in our prisons will come out at some point," said Gibson. "It is up to us to do what we can to ensure their success."
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Suicide and Incarceration

An article in The Washington Post last week examines suicides in detention facilities and whether the deaths can be prevented through additional safeguards and training. Among those listed is the case of Anthony Weaver, a man incarcerated in Knox County’s Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility (RDWDF) that took his own life using a jail issued razor blade to slit his throat. Weaver — who suffered from depression and addiction — had expressed to his attorney thoughts of suicide that were relayed to employees of the facility but were not acted upon. In addition, he was given a razor by guards then left unsupervised even though he had previously tried to end his life by cutting his wrists while incarcerated. Weaver was at least the second inmate to commit suicide in RDWDF that same year. 

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Criminal Law Basics Program a Success

The TBA Criminal Justice Section held its annual Criminal Law Basics program on May 22, receiving stellar feedback from those in attendance. Lawyers and judges were treated to topnotch programming at the Tennessee Bar Center, then toured Riverbend Maximum Security Institution and its death chambers while given a guided presentation on representing a condemned prisoner. The TBA would like to thank the Criminal Justice Section Executive Council for their hard work on this forum. Stay tuned for more innovative programming to come from this section.
Roger Nell, Section Chair, District Public Defender’s Office, Clarksville
Lynne Ingram, Ingram Law, Nashville
Andy Roskind, Pratt Aycock, Knoxville
Mark Fulks, Baker Donelson, Johnson City
Melanie Reid, LMU Duncan School of Law, Knoxville
David Veile, Schell & Oglesby, Franklin
Alex Little, Burr & Forman, Nashville
Bill Goodman, Circuit Court Judge, Clarksville
Elizabeth Russell, Johnston and Street, Franklin
John Partin, District Public Defender, McMinville
Leslie Price, Tennessee Attorney General's Office, Nashville
Patrick Frogge, Tennessee District Public Defender's Conference, Nashville
Robert Wedemeyer, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Nashville
Thomas Santel, Parkerson Santel, Murfreesboro
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Woman Reportedly Raped by a Chattanooga Police Officer Alleges Fourth Amendment Violations, Coverup

Attorneys representing a woman in a lawsuit against the city of Chattanooga who alleges former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan raped her filed an amended complaint on Wednesday alleging a coverup and Fourth Amendment violations, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The updated filing contends that Logan has a history of “inappropriate sexual misconduct, including a previous rape incident” and that Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Edwin McPherson conspired with retired Capt. Pedro Bacon to suppress records of that misconduct. At least three women maintain that they were raped by Logan since he began his law enforcement career in 2015. The city has not filed a response to the complaint and has declined to comment on the matter.

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Johnson City Mother Receives Probation for Placing Infant in Freezer

A Johnson City woman who placed her infant son inside of an old freezer located in the backyard of an unrelated party was given probation this week, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Washington County Judge Stacy Street sentenced Brittany C. Smith to two years of probation after she pleaded guilty to a charge of child neglect. Residents say they saw Smith standing next to the unused freezer with the infant. After going outside to check on her, they found Smith hiding under the crawlspace of their house without the baby. The homeowners told authorities that Smith appeared to be under the influence of something and left her son with them, returning 12 hours later to pick him up. Law enforcement was eventually notified after Smith refused a request by the residents to have the child’s grandmother involved before returning the child to her.

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Knox Jail Alternative Seeks Additional Funding

The Knox County program that offers an alternative to jail for nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders is seeking additional funding from the municipality, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The Helen Ross McNabb Center opened last year and signed a three-year contract with Knox County to operate a 16-bed center where law enforcement can place qualifying offenders, who can then be held for up to 72 hours before being given referrals to assistance and a case manager upon release. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse provided the center with $3.4 million for renovations and pay for startup costs; however, that money only covered three-quarters of the initial funds needed. McNabb Center CEO Jerry Vagnier has asked Knox County commissioners for $840,000 and the city for $560,000 to cover operation costs for the fiscal year.

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