Recently, the Governor announced the formation of a new Criminal Justice Investment Task Force as part of a comprehensive plan to implement meaningful reform within our criminal justice system. This task force will develop legislative and budgetary recommendations over the next two legislative sessions regarding public safety and reentry issues as part of our ongoing work to ensure our system of justice meets present-day standards, not those of 30 years ago.
Specifically, my colleagues and I will focus on criminal code, as well as our current sentencing structure. As a former assistant district attorney and currently an attorney in private practice, I believe we need a system of justice where the penalty fits the type of crime committed. This new justice system must punish violent criminals promptly and effectively, but we can also revise guidelines related to parole and probation so they meet today’s standards. This will support those who have done their time, have not gotten into further trouble, and who desire to work towards prosperity.
Our work in the days, weeks, and months ahead, as well as the recommendations this task force makes will enable us to continue to address public safety, while removing some of the barriers to successful reentry. Together, we will create a new system of justice, but one that is tempered with mercy. This will enable us to remain tough on crime and hold the worst of the worst accountable, but also smart on crime, and support those working to overcome their previous missteps.
This meaningful and long overdue reform will ultimately reduce Tennessee’s recidivism rates — saving taxpayer dollars — while also improving overall safety in cities and towns across this state. I appreciate the opportunity to serve on this important task force as we continue to make Tennessee a national leader on this important issue.
William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.