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Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142

April 27, 2022

Legislation Will Cost Taxpayers Millions and Jeopardize Public Safety

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee urged Governor Bill Lee to veto SB 2248/HB 2656, the “truth-in-sentencing" bill that would require certain offenders to serve all or nearly all of their sentences without the opportunity to earn credit for good behavior or program participation.

“This legislation will cost Tennessee taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, while doing nothing to boost public safety or to help people prepare to successfully return to their communities,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director. “If we want to improve public safety, we need to increase investment in rehabilitation and reentry, not incarceration.”

Studies show that opportunities to earn credits off of sentences incentivize incarcerated individuals to maintain good behavior and participate in programming. Without these incentives, program enrollment will decrease, prisons will be less safe, and rates of recidivism will increase as incarcerated individuals receive less preparation for successful reentry.

ACLU-TN's letter describes the bill as “regressive” and “ineffective,” citing studies that show that higher incarceration rates do not decrease, and may in fact increase, instances of violent crime. The letter also asserts that SB 2248/HB 2656 “will pass on massive costs to taxpayers,” noting that the potential need for additional carceral facilities to accommodate the increased prison population from this legislation may eventually cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The letter urges Governor Lee to veto SB 2248/HB 2656, stating that its passage will come at “the detriment of individuals who are incarcerated, Tennesseans working in prisons, and communities statewide.”