Why FAMM is working in Tennessee 

Tennessee has one of the broadest and harshest drug-free school zone laws in the nation. Under current law, a first-time low-level drug offender can see their prison sentence more than quadruple simply for being within 1,000 feet of a school at the time of the offense. The mandatory sentence enhancement under Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law applies to all offenders within 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, daycare center, or recreational center regardless of the time of day or whether or not a child was present. This law has resulted in hundreds of individuals serving sentences far longer than public safety demands, costing both their families and the public. 

2018 Reforms FAMM Supports

In 2018, FAMM will be working in Tennessee to reform the state’s draconian drug-free school zone law. FAMM will be working to reduce the length of the drug-free school zone and to create a safety valve to allow judges the discretion to sentence below the mandatory minimum in certain drug-free school zone cases. 


These resources explain what the issue in Tennessee is and how it should be addressed. 

Absurd and Unjust: The Case Against Tennessee’s Drug-Free School Zone Reform

The Need For Drug-Free School Zone Reform in Tennessee 

Victims call for Tennessee drug-free school zone law reform 

National Criminal Justice Reform Organizations Call for Drug-Free School Zone Reform in Tennessee 

Reason Magazine: The Myth of the Playground Pusher

The Tennessean: Tennessee’s drug laws punish the whole family

The Tennessean: He got 17 years for selling drugs near school. Now 12 Nashville officials are fighting on his behalf. 

Patch: Nashville Case Highlights Drug-Free School Zone Reform Efforts

News Channel 5: Man’s 17-year Sentence Highlights Injustice in School Zone Law

History of sentencing reforms in Tennessee 


In November 2017, FAMM, along with a number of leading national criminal justice organizations, sent a letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam urging him to support reform of Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law in the 2018 legislative session. 


How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:

December 14, 2017

Calvin Bryant: 17 Years for a First Offense

  Beloved by friends, family, teachers, and co-workers, Calvin Bryant is now serving 17 years for a first-time offense. His sentence was grossly enhanced by Tennessee’s harsh and unfair drug-free school zone law. In 2009, Calvin Bryant was convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to 17 years in Tennessee state prison. He was a first-time… Read more »

November 16, 2017

Sara Moore: “A Great Little Kid”

  Sara was so far into her drug addiction that nothing mattered. Not friends, family, or work. She sold drugs out of her apartment and was arrested, and because she lived in a school zone, her sentence was much greater than it would have been otherwise. She knew she was in a school zone, she… Read more »

November 9, 2017

National Criminal Justice Reform Organizations Call for Drug-Free School Zone Reform in Tennessee

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 National Criminal Justice Reform Organizations Call for Drug-Free School Zone Reform in Tennessee NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law, originally intended to shield children from the illegal distribution and purchasing of drugs, is being unfairly applied in cases where children are not involved or even in the vicinity of the… Read more »

August 3, 2017

Terrance Davis

  Because of the Drug-Free School Zone Act in Tennessee, this low-level drug offender is serving a decade longer than he would have without that enhancement. A distance of 101 feet. For Terrance Davis, that length was the difference between 12 years in prison—with the possibility of parole after serving four years—and the sentence he… Read more »