Tennessee | FAMM

Tennessee

FAMM started working in Tennessee in 2018 to reform the state’s drug-free school zone law, which was one of the broadest and harshest in the nation. In June 2020, the state legislature passed SB 2734, which reformed the drug-free school zone law. That reform takes effect on July 1, 2020, and applies to people sentenced on or after that date (i.e., it is not retroactive). Under the old law, a first-time low-level drug offender could see their prison sentence more than quadruple simply for being within 1,000 feet of a school at the time of the offense. SB 2734 shrinks the size of the zones to 500 feet and functionally repeals the mandatory minimum sentence enhancement — starting July 1, 2020, Tennessee judges have the freedom not to apply the mandatory sentence. There are still 400 people in prison serving sentences under the old drug-free school zone law. FAMM has urged the governor to grant clemency to those people.

Read the summary of SB 2734.

Read the stories below to learn more about why we’re working for reform in Tennessee.

Wayne Potee

For Wayne Potee, it all comes down to one day. It was a weekday, and he was working on power lines when he took a bad fall off his truck. He suffered an injury to his rotator cuff that required surgery. Afterward, the surgeon prescribed Percocet. In seemingly no time at all, Wayne became addicted to pain medication and his life went to pieces. Now he’s in prison, into year four of a 15-year sentence.

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Terrence 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 got: 22 years without parole.

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Sara Moore

Sara sold drugs out of her apartment and was arrested. Because she lived in a school zone, her sentence was much greater than it would have been otherwise.

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Calvin Bryant

In 2009, Calvin Bryant was convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to 17 years in Tennessee state prison. He was a first-time offender, and he could have served less than three years; instead, he got 17.

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2020 Laws and Policy

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Tennessee

You can do several things to work toward reforming Tennessee’s sentencing laws.

Latest News:

FAMM praises Tennessee legislature passing drug-free school zone reform

Thursday, June 18, 2020

For Media Inquiries: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org FAMM praises Tennessee legislature passing drug-free school zone reform NASHVILLE – FAMM Vice President of Policy Molly Gill released the following statement today following the Tennessee House passing a bill to reform drug-free school zone laws. The bill, which passed in the Senate last week, now moves to Gov. Lee’s desk … Read More

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FAMM praises Tennessee Senate passing drug-free school zone reform

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

For Media Inquiries: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org FAMM praises Tennessee Senate passing drug-free school zone reform Senate has taken the important first step of mitigating the devastating burden of Tennessee’s drug-free school zone laws NASHVILLE – FAMM Vice President of Policy Molly Gill released the following statement today following the Tennessee Senate’s passage of a … Read More

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FAMM Praises Introduction of Drug-Free School Zone Reform Legislation in Tennessee

Friday, February 14, 2020

Contact: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org FAMM Praises Introduction of Drug-Free School Zone Reform Legislation in Tennessee NASHVILLE – FAMM applauds the introduction of a new bill (HB 2517 and SB 2734) that would reform the state’s overly broad drug-free school zone law, which is one of the harshest in the nation. Tennessee Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and … Read More

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