Final Report of the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in The Film

ReportCoverIn August 2014, three months after the release of “Outcasts,” Governor Haslam appointed 27 members to the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism, including six members of the legislature, five current and former district attorneys general, three sheriffs and police chiefs, a county mayor, five executive branch officials, three judges, one public defender, one victim advocate, one community programming provider, and two representatives of the business community. Their mission was to improve public safety in Tennessee by identifying (1) strategies to reduce recidivism among individuals leaving prisons and jails and (2) changes to sentencing laws and practices that will more effectively use criminal justice resources to reduce crime and address the growth of the prison and jail population.

To achieve its mission, the Task Force was supported by the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and its staff that traveled the state soliciting stakeholder opinions, organized presentations for Task Force meetings, and facilitated four working groups: Sentencing Structure, Sentencing Classifications and Enhancements, Community Supervision, and Programming and Treatment.

Among the recommendations to reduce recidivism were:

  • Establish individualized case management plans for felony offenders on community supervision (both probation and post-prison), thereby reducing the number of standard and special conditions and tailoring the conditions of supervision to fit each offender’s individual risks and needs.
  • Invest in evidence-based, cost effective, and coordinated transitional programming and treatment services both during and after incarceration.
  • Ensure that all incarcerated felony offenders are released, and supported by, a system of post-release community supervision.
  • Develop and implement a system of positive incentives for those on community supervision, including but not limited to a reduction in the time period of supervision.
  • Increase the employability of those with criminal convictions by taking steps to help them keep or obtain driver’s licenses or state photo identifications.
  • Examine the management and treatment of sex offenders to reduce recidivism and protect society.
  • Raise the felony property crime threshold to $1,000.
  • Support a Social Impact Bond model of investment as a way of funding promising re-entry programs.

The full draft copy of the Task Force report may be downloaded here. TF final report draft July 31 2015

We commend Governor Haslam, the TDOC, the Vera Institute and the 27 members of the Task Force. Hopefully, once the report’s recommendations are implemented, thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals can achieve another chance at a productive, fulfilling life.


  1. The driver’s license part is a positive…but, not sure about making ALL convicted felons go into supervision period after release. I wonder if that includes the ppl who complete 100% of their sentence in prison? Anyway, I want to be careful in commenting because I’m not a fan of Governor Haslam. Whenever I hear about him getting credit for doing anything positive to help people in the situation of cycling through our criminal justice system, I think of Hillary Clinton trying to act like she is the ‘black lives matter’ candidate and she is the one to fix our unjust justice system.

    As I recall, he campaigned (initially) using that same old, haven’t got a clue, rhetoric of ‘getting tough on crime’..Remember how I told you the story of a commercial I listened to, night after night, while incarcerated in the overcrowded Blountville facility? A candidate campaigning for governor back then wanted to take away funding for jails and prisons, stating, “we don’t want these people thinking they’re living in a Hilton!”

    I’d think, “this guy either doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or he really just doesn’t care”, as I looked around at women sleeping under eating tables, and close to toilets. It was one of the nastiest, filthiest, unsanitary places you can imagine, and he wanted to compare it to an upscale hotel. Unreal! That was this governor. I still laugh about it sometimes, thinking, “if I ever (on purpose) pay for a room like that, I’m definately getting my money back!”

    Still, I guess it doesn’t matter so much (in politics) who takes the blame for the bad policies (or whatever) of yesterday, or the credit for trying today…change is ALWAYS going to happen because of good, courageous, regular people out here that stand up and put forth an effort…that use their voice to speak up for others who don’t have much of a voice themselves…and, who care enough about an unpopular social issue to pay the price (always is one) of pushing it into a larger topic of discussion.

    Steve Newton, you began this project, it seems to me, before it was being discussed by so many. There’s still a lot to do, but I am encouraged and inspired by you. You are not exactly “regular” to me, but I’m still amazed at the courage and heart it took for you and The Hillhouse Production Co. to film, produce, and promote this documentary. Thank you all again for caring, and for the sacrifice.

  2. Patricia, Thanks so much for your courage and for your insights. We know you are definitely an inspiration for thousands of others who must make the uncertain journey toward regaining their rights as American citizens against all odds.

    Regardless of who governs, we cannot achieve positive reform within the criminal justice system as long as it’s controlled by the prison industrial complex for profit.

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