Lee hosting roundtable on criminal justice reform including Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is hosting a roundtable on criminal justice reform on Wednesday featuring former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, among others.

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is kicking off Second Chance Month by hosting a roundtable conversation on criminal justice policy with conservative thought leaders, including former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, former Governor Rick Perry, Pat Nolan, Brooke Rollins and Josh Smith.

“Criminal justice reform is still somewhat of a conservative frontier, and with our strong proposals, we can reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars and make Tennessee communities safer,” said Gov. Lee. “I look forward to a thoughtful discussion on how Tennessee can lead the nation in balancing the notion of justice with the public safety outcomes we all expect.”

“The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) has consistently scored legislation in states across the country similar to that which Governor Lee has proposed,” said David Safavian, General Counsel for ACUF. “We view the underlying tenets of his approach as built on conservative ideals of improving community safety, advancing human dignity, reducing wasteful spending and the belief in redemption.”

About the Panelists:

Newt Gingrich: A fearless visionary and historian, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is one of the foremost economic, social, political, and security-focused conservative thinkers today. He is well-known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing a majority in the United States House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Today, Newt is Chairman of Gingrich 360, a full-service American consulting, education and media production group that connects the past, present, and future to inspire audiences, solve challenges and develop opportunities.

Pat Nolan: Pat Nolan is the Director Emeritus of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Nolan Center for Justice. Nolan is a leading voice on criminal justice reform, highlighting the skyrocketing costs of prison, fiscal responsibility in the criminal justice system and reforms for non-violent offenders. Nolan is the author of When Prisoners Return, which describes the important role of the Church in helping prisoners get back on their feet after they are released. He is a frequent expert witness at Congressional hearings on important issues such as prison work programs, juvenile justice, prison safety, offender reintegration and religious freedom. 

Gov. Rick Perry: Rick Perry is a former United States Secretary of Energy, serving under U.S. President Trump from March 2017 to December 2019. Prior to joining the Administration as Secretary of Energy, Perry served as the 47th Governor of Texas. As Governor of the Lone Star State, Perry championed conservative principles including leading the nation in criminal justice reform efforts, which eventually became a national blueprint for reform. 

Brooke Rollins: Brooke Rollins is an attorney who served as the acting director of the United States Domestic Policy Council under President Donald Trump and oversaw the White House Office of American Innovation. Rollins was president and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based free-market think tank, from 2003 through 2018. Rollins previously served as deputy general counsel, ethics advisor and policy director to Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Josh Smith: A Tennessean who was formerly incarcerated, Josh has spent the past 15 years actively involved in criminal justice reform in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and countries in Central America. Smith has supported programs that provide hope, training and reentry support for prisoners and their families who earnestly want a new life, including hiring and mentoring many felons. In June of 2019 he was named to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force.  He and his wife of 23 years, Tracy, are now driven to reshape the reality for offenders, from the time they enter prison through their re-entry.

48 Responses to Lee hosting roundtable on criminal justice reform including Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

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    James White says:

    Why is anyone paying attention to Neocons Newt and Rick?

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    MARLE says:

    Too bad Lester Maddox and George Wallace aren’t still here to round out the exemplary group.

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    steve cates says:

    Well, he is bringing in a nut and a borderline “criminal” , so they should fit right in.

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    LeeAnn C says:

    Who’s NOT invited? Tennessee attorney generals, criminal court judges, probation officers, current drug recovery program administrators. Call and write your representatives and state senators today to advise that allowing offenders FOUR chances to violate the terms of their probation before a judge can revoke their probation for their original CONVICTION is WRONG!

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    Donna Locke says:

    Criminals in prison know exactly what to do and say in order to appear “redeemed.”

    Some of those incarcerated should not be there, but many, many more should never have been released. There are many victims of irresponsible releases from police custody, jail, and prison.

    In about a year, my family will attend yet another parole hearing for the murderer of my sister. He was sentenced to life in prison. Life without parole was not an option in Tennessee at the time. At this psychopath’s most recent parole hearing, we were told by an official that we should expect the killer’s release before long and take necessary precautions.

    Nashville Metro police said my sister’s murder was the most brutal and savage murder they had seen. Her killer stated to police that he killed my sister because she was gay. He stated he had done the world a favor by killing her because preachers on the radio said so. This is what some people hear and act on. My sister’s killer had previously been arrested for trying to kill another person by the same method.

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      LeeAnn C. says:

      I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. The District Attorneys Conference has been trying to inform the legislators that the proposed reform measures are unfair to the victims and families of victims. They should have a seat at the ’round table’ of the governor as well.

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        Donna Locke says:

        Thank you, LeeAnn. My family was never the same after. Decades now. Totally changed my mother. We are the ones who get the life sentence. My mother passed in January.

        The killer has tried a number of tricks and deceptions at his parole hearings, but my brother is a former prosecutor and was able to successfully dismantle all of it in front of the parole board. Though the killer confessed to police, and there was more than enough evidence against him, he pleaded not guilty since he didn’t think he did anything wrong by killing a gay woman.

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    Cryan says:

    A criminal justice reform panel endorsed by Corrections Corporation of America®, Grumpy’s Bail Bonds, LLC, and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.

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    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    I’m all for reform that would make Tennessee the least desirable state in the nation in which to commit a crime. We should have the longest sentences for violent crime and the longest time before you’re eligible for parole. A public relations campaign should accompany that reform letting every criminal know that the cost of doing that kind of business in Tennessee is higher than any state in the union. Indeed, initially the cost of this to the taxpayers would be high but eventually as you have an outward migration of criminals who prefer a more liberal crime tolerant community in which to ply their trade costs will go down and Tennessee will be an even better place to live.

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      LeeAnn C says:

      That’s NOT happening. The Senate Judiciary Committee meets today at 1 pm to vote on the governor’s plan for criminal justice reform. The plan includes locking our criminal court justices in to ridiculous short term slsos on the wrist for probation offenses. The judges are prohibited from revoking probation until the FOURTH violation…after the original conviction. CALL THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE to express your opinion of giving criminals FIVE chances before having to serve their sentences!

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        LeeAnn C says:

        “slaps” on the wrist…

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        Cryan says:

        It’s actually not bad politics for Republicans to get out in front on Criminal Justice Reform. Nebraska Republicans outlawed the death penalty years ago.

        The devil is in the details on these plans from Trump and Lee (see private prisons in Tennessee) but it’s a win politically.

        At least Newt is looking to the future for Republicans. Whites will soon be a minority. What you see in the previous comments from Stuart and LeeAnne “Qanon” C. is called gatekeeping. They’d rather Republicans die out as a whites only party.

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          LeeAnn C says:

          I have no idea what you are talking about but strongly suspect you don’t either with the silly labels. If you haven’t heard about the work of Recovery Courts for drug addicts and veterans, you should check it out. Very few offenders take on the program because it is very challenging. Once “graduated”, the offender is free of their addiction, has a job and is restored to being a productive citizen. Recidivism is tremendously reduced. It requires 14 months and, at this point, must be chosen by the offender. Usually, their wait for parole is shorter. Without TRUE reform, they just end up back in prison. Governor Lee’s proposal bears no resemblance and will not keep the addicts detained long enough to rid their brain functions of the addiction effects. Good intentions, poor plan. Of course, it sailed through the Senate Judiciary committee just in time for the round table today.

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        MARLE says:

        Criminal justice reform…isn’t that what Trump favorite Tim Scott (R-SC) was advocating that got him such pats on the back by Trump? And the ever-present JZ, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and that whole crowd. Both sides, Right and Left can’t get enough of this WHile They are in power. Once they are out of power then of course they change their tune.

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        Lee has this insufferable “bleeding heart syndrome” that prevents him from being as good as he can be. It’s a shame.

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          MARLE says:

          Yeah…I guess you think he should be harder on the criminals and the sexual eccentrics.

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          MARLE, you disappoint. I would think that you would know that a libertarian would generally be opposed to the state to punishing individuals for victimless acts like those engaged in by sexual eccentrics.

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            MARLE says:

            But you want their rights restricted don’t you? Don’t want them to marry and benefit from the generous estate tax pass through for couples, do you? Harder on the criminals with more severe punishment and harder on the sexual eccentrics by treating them like the mentally ill pariahs they are.

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Let’s leave aside about what a majority of Justices of the Supreme Court conjure up as “rights’ on any given hour of the day. Once the Court decides what is a “right” there is no more discussion unless a majority can be persuaded otherwise on some other hour of the day.

            As to my personal opinion, I am unsympathetic to turning society upside down in what will probably be an unsuccessful attempt to norm the eccentric. Thus I believe society can and should reserve “marriage” for the union of a male and a female so long as it provides a civil union for same sex individuals. When the conversation turns to the material, however, I believe that those in civil unions should have the same rules apply in regard to inheritances as applied to married individuals.

            Harder on criminals si, harder on sexual eccentrics no. As for the way they are regarded, the fact is they are eccentrics, making up a very small percent of the population. By definition they are different. Some will regard those differences material others immaterial. Those who want to regard the union of same sex individuals as “married” can, and those who don’t regard them as such are entitled to their opinion. Nothing to see here we should simply move on and ignore the Cultural Marxists whose mission is to rile Americans up as much as possible.

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            MARLE says:

            Why should anyone “regard” eccentrics as “married” when folks such as yourself want ensure that they aren’t? And the word eccentric if used to mean in the significant minority could apply to left-handers, to those with electric, brilliant blue eyes, to many people AND YET I don’t hear anyone refer to them as eccentric.

            You have used and are continuing to use the word as a pejorative. On purpose and without using it to reference any other minority group. Those who rely on heritage are no doubt a small witless group but I don’t call YOU a mental eccentric. I should. But charity instructs me otherwise.

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    Mary Z says:

    Where are the people whose feet are on the ground? Attorneys general, prosecutors, judges, probation officers? Give those experts a chance to have input into this law so that it will work in the real world.

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Too many people in jail and a disproportionate number of minorities. Many in jail simply were trying to keep food on their tables and clothes on their children’s backs in an unfair economic system. More potential illegal activity=more police employment. Less potential illegal activity=less people in jail and more tax dollars saved. I HOPE this is the target of this ’roundtable’.

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      James White says:

      I am with Stuart and LeeAnn, LOCK THEM UP. Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine.

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        Cryan says:

        400 death row inmates exonerated with DNA evidence. DNA evidence didn’t come on the scene until the mid 1990s. I can’t believe you can sleep at night knowing the state executes innocent people.

        Heroin, meth, and oxy are more dangerous than crack cocaine. Why are the more dangerous drug users considered “addicts” eligible for rehab and criminal record expungement? Why, on the other hand, did the crack users get locked under the jail?

        The United States of Fascism.

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          MARLE says:

          I guess you’re trying to suggest that meth is the drug of choice for the rich and powerful??? So the poor crack heads do time but the rich meth heads don’t? Whaaaaaaat????

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            Cryan says:

            No, it and opiates are the drug of choice for honkeys and crackers. But honkeys and crackers get to go to rehab because it’s an “epidemic.” Black crack users are put in jail. There’s no Justice in that.

            Now if you want to insert class into the mix, let’s talk about marijuana. Do you think the 16 year old private school kid in Brentwood is going to get the same treatment as the 16 year old kid in the projects?

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            MARLE says:

            Social injustice exists. Of course. But how many generations does it take to pull a family out of the ditch? We have had preferential treatment for college applications since 1981. We have had quotas in hiring and promotion since about the same time when both women and minorities shot up the corporate and government scale ladders faster than ever before.

            That timeframe represents 3 Full Generations of advancement. My grandfather had a 3d grade education. His son, my father, 2 years of vocational post secondary and I have a masters as do my children. And women and minorities who put in the effort, apply fiscal self-discipline living BELOW their means, have done well in the last 40 years.

            Not everyone, white or black, puts in the same effort, you know.

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            MARLE says:

            And I have no doubt that the wealthy Black financial advisor or attorney’s son in Franklin is NOT being held on marijuana charges either. This is a class rather than a skin color issue and as I said we have had 40 years now of affirmative action initiatives for those who Want to put them to good use.

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            Cryan says:

            I’ll concede that class is part of the problem. There is a different, more lenient justice system for the rich.

            As the resident hypocrisy score keeper, my point was poor blacks get sent to jail and poor whites get sent to rehab. That’s a race problem.

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      MARLE says:

      Sure B…all we have to do to reduce Crime is to re-name it. Fewer (not less, grammatically)incarcerated fewer police, fewer jails. What could be better just define “criminal” into a vanishing act.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Who the hell took Beatrice to see Les Miserables? That’s like taking an alcoholic to happy hour at the corner bar.

      Hey Beatrice, how are those Spanish lessons coming? Better hurry because thanks to the demented Big Guy they’re a comin’.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        There were nearly 2M illegals entering during the Trump admin. In addition to that ICE apprehensions AND deportations decreased to average levels below the Obama years. So B should have been taking Spanish lessons to keep pace with the Trump mess as well. And Marsha’s call for illegals to remain here so long as they didn’t commit felonies didn’t help one bit either.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Speaking of which what ever happened to the investigation re: the thug who waged an “insurrection” against the government by ramming the barrier protecting the Capitol with his car killing a police officer then lunging at police with a knife after his car was disabled. Few breathless follow ups and no reports of further investigation about another “insurrection” against the government. I guess it’s a sad case of wrong race and wrong religion so down the memory hole it goes.

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    Rahim Buford says:

    So many heartless folks who never offer healing solutions and a justice (restorative/transformative) practice that offers an opportunity for redemption and second chances. As a formerly incarcerated citizen, 26 years caged, six years out, college graduate, law abiding & working…I’d never wish/won’t the individual who killed my sister and facilitated the death of my brother to be without an opportunity to experience change, like me. Why do some Tennesseans think it is a crime to forgive or give second chances? Be the change you want to see, help create a 2nd chance culture!

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      Cryan says:

      Because they aren’t real followers of Christ. They pervert Christianity to fulfil their fascist political ambitions.

      Well, the smart ones. The others are just dumb followers and believe what Q and Facebook tells them to believe.

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    This is a particularly good thread because it brings out all sorts of emotions and reactions. Most interesting is the most vulgar, obscene, sex obsessed individual who regularly contributes to this forum now apparently thinks that he has become a man of the cloth instructing others exactly on the right attitudes and policy preferences to have in order to be a good Christian.

    Where to file this? How about under “B” for “bizarre” but never under “S” for “Seriously; to be taken”?

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    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    This conversation about “Crime & Punishment” proceeds in predictable phases much like the tides or the stock market. First we have a crime wave where people are afraid to walk the streets so there is a political uproar of which pols want to take advantage. Thus we enter the “tough on crime/lock ’em up” phase. Once a higher percentage of the criminal element is locked up crime goes down so a combination of Beatrice Shaw Bleeding Hearts and pols who want to spend the money spent on criminal justice elsewhere want to reduce the costs of crime by reducing penalties, release prisoners etc.
    Given many criminals simply regard crime as their calling, crime then soon goes up and we re-enter the “tough on crime/lock ’em up” phase. If we would simply consistently “lock ’em up” and have appropriate programs in schools whose alumni are all too prone to graduate into prison, perhaps more people would decide on a calling other than crime.

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    Mike says:

    We have one DUM ASS “Gov” I never in my 65 born and raze inTennessee have seen a man so dam stupid as Bill boy lee.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      So I take it Mike that you weren’t one of those who thought that running an HVAC company without ever showing the slightest interest in politics before running for governor was a wonderful reason to choose Lee rather than the other three far more politically experienced candidates.

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        MARLE says:

        As an aside, Stuart. It seems that one of THE most famous sexual eccentrics is in talks with the California Republican party to run as a candidate for Governor opposing Gavin Newsom. Yep! Caitlyn Jenner instead of being put in a mental institution is considering taking the R behind his/her name right into the Gov’s mansion. Was Tucker busting his buttons over this or did he choose not to share this info with his audience tonight?

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        Stuart I. Anderson says:

        A number of people who the lay person would think belongs in a mental institution end up in office, even high office, in California which partially accounts for the exodus of productive middle class people out of that nightmare of a state. California Republican officeholders are now centrists with a smattering of tepid conservatives or even liberals I bet. They don’t interest me for obvious reasons. As for Tucker he rightly made the editorial decision that there were more important things to cover in tonight’s program (FOX News, 7 PM weekdays).

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          MARLE says:

          Of course. More important things than the Rep party of ANY state having the likes of Jenner at the top of the ticket. I see. So many many important things covered nightly by Tucker. Right!

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            Cryan says:

            Stuart and Tucker didn’t get the memo. Gatekeeping doesn’t make you a God; it makes you an asshole.

            Let them keep the GOP a fragile white man’s party. Another decade of the likes of Bill Lee, Terri Lynch Weaver, Casada, Kid Rock, and the ensuing boycotts and economic decline will help Democrats in the long run.

            Nashville is growing exponentially. Keep playing your short game, Stuey.

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          Taxpayer #314 says:

          If you are looking to find someone who is in need of a mental exam, look no further than the conservative party with people like Matt, Desantis, Tucker or so many of the others. You seem to keep “banging on” about your big guy theory but there are plenty of questions about the squad of high scoring thieves and crooks that you support with all your tons of money. The NRC even warned that the people trump had defrauded should be aware that trump can find out easily if they stop payments on the fraudulent recurring charges. Thieves grifting crooks, what a grand old party!

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