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 Hails Introduction of Drug-Free School Zone Reform Legislation in Tennessee

Friday, April 27, 2018

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202-822-6700 FAMM Hails Introduction of Drug-Free School Zone Reform Legislation in Tennessee Nashville – FAMM today applauded the introduction of a bill (HB 2111 and SB 2062) that limits the scope of Tennessee’s overly broad drug-free school zones. Tennessee Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) and Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) authored the bill. … Read More

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Push for Drug-Free School Zone Reform Dies in Tennessee House Finance Committee

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202-822-6700 Push for Drug-Free School Zone Reform Dies in Tennessee House Finance Committee NASHVILLE – On Monday, the Tennessee House Committee on Finance, Ways, and Means voted 13-9 against HB 2111. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown), would have reduced the length of the drug-free school zones from 1,000 … Read More

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Tennessee Lawmakers, Advocates, and Residents to Tackle Drug-Free School Zone Reform

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202-822-6700   Tennessee Lawmakers, Advocates, and Residents to Tackle Drug-Free School Zone Reform Nashville  – Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law costs the state millions to lock up low-level drug offenders. FAMM is hosting a panel on Feb. 5 in Nashville that brings together advocates, lawmakers, and residents to discuss this law … Read More

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