It’s a sad truth: ineffective criminal justice policies don’t just fail to make Tennessee safer, they leave countless broken families and communities in their wake. There’s a better way. Through legislative action and community-based efforts, we can make the necessary progress in protecting our communities and unlocking second chances for people who want to become positive, productive members of society.
The good news is the legislature passed a number of bills that break barriers for Tennesseans, including: citations in lieu of arrests, driver’s license restoration, and removing state fees for expungement fees. These reforms will help all Tennesseans have a fair chance of pursuing their American dream.
When lawmakers next gather in Nashville, they should build on this year’s success with civil asset forfeiture reform, victims’ restitution, and automatic expungements if someone is found not guilty of an offense or their charges are dismissed.
Right now, Tennessee’s civil asset forfeiture laws are prone to abuse, and your property could be seized by police despite not being charged or convicted of a crime. Under victims’ restitution, victims of a crime are typically paid only after the state receives its fines and fees. Removing the $350 state expungement fee brought another issue to light – people found not guilty, or whose charges were dismissed, must go through the same burdensome process as someone with a conviction to clear their record.
This status quo needs to change. These reforms will help improve our criminal justice system and position Tennessee to become a national leader on criminal justice reform.
Sign this petition to show our lawmakers we need more common-sense reforms.