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Monday, July 17, 2017

Faison calls for judicial reform
Tennessee — like much of America — has a long history of being “tough on crime.” The state’s lawmakers tend to be proud of locking up the bad guys and throwing away the key. But now Eleventh District Representative Jeremy Faison, Republican of Cosby, is calling for a fresh look at ways to deal with law breakers. He argues there is not much rationale for continuing to do something that doesn’t work. And doubling down on failure is even less justified when it comes at a staggering cost to the taxpayer. Faison's comments come at a time when Cocke County is considering a new jail, and at a time that a number of county commissioners are calling for a consideration of alternatives to incarceration. "Even while crime in the United States has neared all-time lows, Tennessee is a troubling outlier, with a violent crime rate that is nearly twice the national average," says Faison. He points to a 2010 study that showed 46 percent of people released from Tennessee prisons re-offend within three years — which means the current system is failing to “correct” bad behavior nearly half the time. And keeping offenders in prison comes at the average cost of $2,200 per month for a single prison bed. The lawmaker believes it is time for the Tennessee General Assembly to start looking at what being tough on crime actually does for society. "It is time for state leaders to trade tough on crime rhetoric, for a smart approach to justice," argues Faison. He says as imprisonment decreases, so do crime rates, and so 31 states have cut both crime and incarceration. "We’ve been conditioned to believe that if government isn’t tough on crime, then criminals will take over and pandemonium will ensue. The truth is that a smart, responsible approach to crime can do much more to keep everyone safe, make the system fairer, and save taxpayer money," argues Faison. The lawmaker observes that ten years’ worth of data shows that just one of Tennessee’s residential treatment facilities saves Tennessee taxpayers approximately $32,000 each year for every person who completes in-facility treatment rather than going to prison. "In reality, you would be hard pressed to find someone who dreamed of living with a lifetime of identification as a “felon” and confronting the barriers and pitfalls that follow an ex-offender at every step. At the end of the day, it’s little wonder that the rate of recidivism is so high." Faison believes people simply can’t find any other way to survive, and society hasn't given them the tools or the chance to do so. During the 2017 legislative session, Rep. Faison and Sen. Steve Dickerson, Republican of Nashville, sponsored legislation to roll back a law that required the revocation of an individual's driver's license if they were unable to pay court costs and fees within one year. Now, an indigent individual may ask the court to alter or waive the fees as needed, allowing them to keep their license, drive to work, attend church, take care of their families, and hopefully succeed in becoming productive members of society. The lawmaker says such simple changes can give Tennessee’s most vulnerable a second chance at success, and in turn create a positive impact for the safety of the public as a whole. "We have become consumed with protecting people from themselves, but the proper role of government is to protect the American people from an entity that is greater, bigger, and stronger," says Faison. "In Tennessee, that entity is the system of incarceration and correctional control. It’s our responsibility to add checks and balances and do what we can to downsize it." Faison argues that the evidence shows that our state is crying out for a change, "And so Tennessee is faced with a choice – and we shouldn’t double down on stupid."

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Monday, June 18, 2018

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  • Affordable housing rents to increase

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    Friday, June 15, 2018

  • School safety evaluation is complete
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    Thursday, June 14, 2018

  • Cosby motorhome fire
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