TN prison sentencing policies to be reviewed by outside group

News release from state Department of Safety:
NASHVILLE – Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, chairman of the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet, today announced that the group is partnering with the Vera Institute of Justice to review sentencing and correction policies and practices with an aim towards improving public safety for all Tennesseans.

Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield, a member of the subcabinet, has led the charge in putting this partnership together, and Vera’s technical assistance will come at no cost to Tennessee taxpayers.

The review will build on the Public Safety Subcabinet’s work over the last three years including the state’s public safety action plan that was introduced in January 2012.

“We are fortunate that Vera has chosen Tennessee as a state to invest its resources and expertise,” Gibbons said. “It says a lot about the things we’re doing right in Tennessee, and we want to build on that progress to continue our work to improve public safety for our citizens. Commissioner Schofield deserves credit for leading the way to make this partnership a reality.”

“The Department of Correction is following an ambitious path to significantly improve how offenders are supervised,” Schofield said. “We are actively engaged in adopting best practices that are suitable and sustainable in Tennessee because we know that a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to public safety will not work.”

“We are eager to begin working with the state of Tennessee under the strong leadership of Gov. Haslam who, along with the Public Safety Subcabinet, has shown a commitment to thinking broadly and deeply about how to make the criminal justice system in Tennessee more effective and to provide better public safety outcomes,” Peggy McGarry, director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice, said.

The Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet includes commissioners of the departments of Safety and Homeland Security, Correction, Mental Health, Children’s Services, Health, and Military, along with the chairman of the Board of Probation and Parole, the directors of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (Department of Transportation), Office of Criminal Justice Programs (Department of Finance and Administration), Law Enforcement Training Academy (Department of Commerce and Insurance), and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.