Criminal Justice Investment Task Force
In March 2019, Governor Lee issued Executive Order 6, establishing the Criminal Justice Investment Task Force (CJITF) to develop policies aimed at reducing recidivism and improving public safety. The CJITF was tasked with conducting a review of the state’s criminal justice system, using data and research, to move towards a criminal justice system that focuses resources on recidivism reduction and crime prevention strategies. The CJITF, comprised of over 100 members, includes representatives from corrections, law enforcement, the legislature, the judiciary, the prosecutorial and defense bars, victim advocates, educators, behavioral health specialists, and formerly incarcerated individuals. The diversity of stakeholders ensures a comprehensive examination of Tennessee’s system with a shared goal of improving outcomes for all Tennesseans.
In July 2019, state leaders from all three branches of government, including Governor Bill Lee, Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, and Speaker Cameron Sexton, requested technical assistance to support the work of the task force. From August through December 2019, with technical assistance from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), several subcommittees of the CJITF conducted a rigorous review of Tennessee’s sentencing and corrections data, examined current policies, practices, and programs across the state, reviewed best practices and models from other states, and engaged in comprehensive policy discussions. The technical assistance provided by CJI as part of JRI is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The CJITF was formed with subcommittees focused on specific issue areas. The interim report published on December 19th, 2019 focuses on the work of four of those subcommittees: (1) the Sentencing and Criminal Code Subcommittee; (2) the Parole and Probation Subcommittee; (3) the Mental Health and Substance Use Subcommittee; and (4) the Education, Workforce Development, and Re-entry Subcommittee. Throughout the process, the subcommittees reviewed data from state agencies including the Department of Correction, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Board of Parole. In addition to the data, the subcommittees engaged in a comprehensive assessment of the state’s criminal justice system, including receiving valuable feedback from prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, members of the parole board, law enforcement agencies, parole and probation officers, treatment providers, behavioral health experts, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Input from victims, survivors, and victims’ representatives was also included in the form of three roundtable discussions in Jackson, Nashville and Knoxville held to identify key priorities for policy and budgetary consideration from the victim perspective.