Tennessee - FAMM

Tennessee

Tennessee’s 2022 legislative session has ended. Check back soon to see what we’ll be working on next year.

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 went into effect on September 1, 2020, but was not retroactive. FAMM immediately urged the governor to grant clemency to approximately 350 people in state prisons already serving sentences under the old drug-free school zone law.
  • On December 2, 2021, Governor Bill Lee announced an expedited clemency application and review process for people in Tennessee state prisons sentenced for drug-free zone offenses before September 1, 2020.
  • In 2022, FAMM supported HB 1449, which became law and makes SB 2734 retroactive. HB 1449 took effect on April 29, 2022, and allows people who received drug-free school zone sentences before September 1, 2020, to file a motion in court to be considered for resentencing in line with the new law.

Read about SB 2734.

Read about how to seek clemency based on the new law.

Read about how to seek a reduced sentence in court under HB 1449

The stories below show why FAMM worked to reform Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law.

For more information about FAMM’s work in Tennessee, contact Matthew Charles at mcharles@famm.org.

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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2022 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 and PERL urge Tennessee Governor and Attorney General to appoint a special investigator in the Eliza Fletcher case

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Contact:John Norton, 202-999-4268jnorton@famm.org FAMM and PERL urge Tennessee Governor and Attorney General to appoint a special investigator in the Eliza Fletcher case NASHVILLE – FAMM and People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws (PERL) sent a letter today to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti requesting that they appoint a special investigator to look at the various justice system failures that … Read More

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FAMM releases statement on unanimous Tennessee Senate vote on retroactive drug-free school zone reform

Monday, April 11, 2022

For Media Inquiries: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org FAMM releases statement on unanimous Tennessee Senate vote on retroactive drug-free school zone reform   NASHVILLE – FAMM policy associate Matthew Charles released the following statement in response to the Tennessee Senate unanimously passing a bill which applies drug-free school zone sentencing changes retroactively. “This is a great day … Read More

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FAMM releases statement following Gov. Lee’s announcement of potential clemency for those serving drug-free school zone sentences

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Media Contact: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org   FAMM releases statement following Gov. Lee’s announcement of potential clemency for those serving drug-free school zone sentences   NASHVILLE – FAMM President Kevin released the following statement after the announcement that Governor Bill Lee would be reviewing the sentences of people sentenced under Tennessee’s old mandatory minimum law for drug-free school … Read More

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