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."
read more »

Matthew Charles Interviewed by NBC Nightly News After Second Release from Prison

Matthew Charles — the man who was released from prison, then sent back pending appeal of his case  — was interviewed by NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, making his first public remarks since being re-released, NBC News reports. Charles was convicted in 1996 for selling crack and illegal possession of a firearm, labeled a “career offender” because of prior criminal convictions, then sentenced to 35 years in prison. A federal judge granted Charles early release in 2016; however, prosecutors appealed that decision and he was subsequently returned to prison around two years later. His case became part of the national discourse on criminal justice reform after attention from members of Congress and celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, and is believed to be the first person released because of the First Step Act.

read more »

Senate Republicans Discuss Changes to Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Senate Republicans are discussing changes to the FIRST STEP Act, the initial bill regarding a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. criminal justice system, The Washington Post reports. Among the changes being discussed are narrowing fentanyl-related crimes to ameliorate mandatory minimum sentences in some cases, narrowing the “safety valve” provision, which provides more discretion to judges when issuing sentences and nixing the “stacking” regulation, which would add more penalties to those who commit a drug-related crime while possessing a gun, even if the firearm wasn’t used. President Trump has made criminal justice reform one of his top legislative priorities, a measure that has to date received bipartisan support.

read more »