Task force to begin addressing criminal justice

Task force to address criminal justice

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new task force has been assembled in Tennessee to tackle crime problems around the state.

For the next two legislative sessions, a group of public safety experts will focus on crime prevention.

That includes the former department of Homeland Security commissioner Bill Gibbons who says domestic violence, gang activity and drug addiction are just some of the things he's looking to tackle.

“Consistently year after year Tennessee is in the top five of the 50 states in our violent crime rate. This is unacceptable,” said Bill Gibbons, TN Criminal Justice Task Force steering committee.

Bill Gibbons, executive director of University of Memphis Public Safety Institute, is a part of the monumental task of addressing criminal justice reform in the state.

Governor Bill Lee created the Criminal Justice Task Force by executive order in March.

Now, we're seeing who will be responsible for creating recommendations.

Topics include:

  • Crime prevention and recidivism reduction
  • Punishing violent crime promptly
  • Supporting crime victims and families
  • Addressing mental health and substance abuse
  • Revising sentencing, probation guidelines
  • Addressing rising fiscal social costs

Gibbons will serve on the steering committee of a 12-member group.

“The governor is very well intentioned, but there is a glaring hole in the resumes of the members of this task force,” said Michael Working, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Michael Working with the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says the task force needs more defense attorneys.

“Four of the five task force in a row have been very well represented by prosecutors and not defense attorneys, which is why we continue to have a punitive system that needs to be reformed,” said Working.

Governor Lee told WMC Action News 5 in a statement: "Our task force represents multiple perspectives including law enforcement, state agencies, crime victims and families, community leaders and formerly incarcerated individuals."

Gibbons says Governor Lee will be in Memphis next week for a forum that will look to connect ex-offenders with potential employers.

It’s unclear when the task force will have its first official meeting.

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