Criminal Justice & Policing

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Bill to allow public access to lethal injection records on the rocks after state lobbies against it

BY: - March 15, 2023

Legislation to allow the public to understand how Tennessee buys lethal injection drugs is floundering as the state correction department lobbies against it behind the scenes.  The legislation — House Bill 870 — would remove an exemption in Tennessee public record law, which allows the state to hide how it procures drugs for lethal injection. The […]

Screen grab of Commissioner Margie Quin of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services addressing the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Jan.30. Department of Finance and Administration Dave Thurman and DCS Chief of Staff Andy Verenski are seated to her right.

GOP lawmaker: TBI is investigating current and former DCS employees

BY: - February 2, 2023

A Republican lawmaker said during a public hearing this week that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing the conduct of current and former employees of the Department of Children’s Services – an investigation a TBI spokesperson later said she could neither confirm nor deny. “I’ve been made aware of a specific instance where the […]

Justice A.A. Birch Building in Nashville, in which a Community Corrections program has operated. (Photo: Brad Freeman, Metropolitan Nashville General Sessions Court)

GOP senators sent message to interim correction commissioner on Community Corrections

BY: - January 26, 2023

Republican senators upset about the phasing out of Tennessee’s Community Corrections program met last fall with the state’s interim correction prisoner and other officials to make a last-ditch effort at salvaging the intensive effort to keep felons out of prison. The handful of senators didn’t raise the roof but sent a strong message. They were […]

Sign at the entrance to the John S. Wilder Youth Development Center. Reports have chronicled instances of verbal, physical and sexual assault of juveniles housed at the facility. (Photo: Google Earth)

Juvenile justice recommendations from legislature lean heavily on institutions

BY: - January 26, 2023

A legislative committee charged with reviewing the state’s troubled juvenile justice system made more than a dozen recommendations on Wednesday that are expected to serve as a blueprint for General Assembly action this year.  Among the recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee on Juvenile Justice: constructing a new secure lockup for youth, adding mental health […]

Empty cell in traditional prison. Photo by Andy Sacks/Getty Images.

Governor appoints new correction commissioner in wake of lethal injection debacle

BY: - January 4, 2023

A week after unveiling a report displaying incompetence in the state’s lethal injection program, Gov. Bill Lee appointed an Arizona prison official who oversaw a renewal of executions there to lead Tennessee’s prison system. Frank Strada, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, will replace interim Commissioner Lisa Helton this week as the governor […]

(Photo: Darrin Klimek/Getty Images)

State holds release of independent report on executions

BY: - December 16, 2022

The state has received an independent review of its lethal injection protocol on executions but is refusing to release it to the public until the Governor’s Office assesses it. Gov. Bill Lee put a hold on executions in May aftering finding out the state failed to follow guidelines on the testing of lethal injection drugs, […]

A meeting of the Knoxville Police Advisory Review Committee. (Photo: J.J. Stambaugh)

Knoxville Police Advisory & Review Board expands power

BY: - December 12, 2022

The state legislature may want to limit citizens in how much of a say they have over how their communities’ police departments work, but Knoxville is trying to forge its own path.  The city’s citizen review board, known as PARC (Police Advisory and Review Committee) has recently seen its powers expanded through an agreement hammered […]

Howard Atkins, in photos included in his application for clemency.

Howard Atkins was sentenced to life at age 16; a TN Supreme Court ruling could soon free him

BY: - November 30, 2022

Howard Atkins first got the news that may soon change his life from a fellow inmate inside Tennessee’s Northwest Correctional Complex, who appeared at the front door of his unit, called him out then started jumping up and down, saying “have you heard?” It was the Friday before Thanksgiving and the Tennessee Supreme Court had […]

Former Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey exits the federal courthouse in Nashville after pleading guilty on two federal counts on Nov. 22. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Ex-Sen. Brian Kelsey pleads guilty to two counts of federal campaign finance violations

BY: - November 22, 2022

Nearly a year after proclaiming he was a victim of a political “witch hunt,” former Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating federal campaign finance laws in a scheme to bolster his failed 2016 congressional campaign. Kelsey, 44, entered guilty pleas to two counts of a five-count federal indictment, one for conspiracy to […]

The Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville, Tennessee, is the historic building that houses the Tennessee Supreme Court offices and where the court meets when it is in session in Nashville. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. (Getty Images)

Landmark TN Supreme Court decision finds mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional

BY: - November 18, 2022

In a landmark decision, a majority panel of the Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday struck down as unconstitutional mandatory life sentences for juveniles. “In fulfilling our duty to decide constitutional issues, we hold that an automatic life sentence when imposed on a juvenile homicide offender with no consideration of the juvenile’s age or other circumstances […]

(Photo from Hamilton County Sheriff Facebook page)

6th Circuit serves victory to Marine Corps veteran agains Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies

BY: - November 7, 2022

A federal appellate court this week served up a legal victory for a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who sued the Hamilton County law enforcers who detained him on the side of the road without cause for nearly an hour in a fruitless search for marijuana. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is refusing to […]

Photo from Knox County Sheriff's Office

6th Circuit upholds decision to strip Knoxville cop of immunity in shooting

BY: - November 3, 2022

A federal appellate court is upholding a decision to strip a Knoxville Police Department officer of immunity in a wrongful death lawsuit over the officer’s shooting of an unarmed man in the back. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals turned aside an appeal by KPD Officer Dylan Williams, who fatally shot an unarmed Channara […]