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