Lee makes clemency annoucements

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

Gov. Bill Lee is making several executive clemency announcements as the holiday season kicks into high gear.

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

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced executive clemency decisions for 17 offenders who have demonstrated a successful path to rehabilitation and established a new process for individuals seeking clemency for drug-free school zone convictions.

Executive clemency decisions are made in consultation with the Tennessee Board of Parole, which issues non-binding recommendations for each case.

“After reviewing the unique merits of each case, I have made the decision to grant these individuals executive clemency,” said Gov. Lee. “These men and women have shown they are ready for productive lives beyond their sentences, and I appreciate the Board of Parole’s consideration in this process.”

There are three types of executive clemency:

— Exoneration – a finding by the governor that an applicant did not commit the crime for which he or she was convicted

— Pardon – an official statement of forgiveness of an offense, typically granted to an applicant who completed his or her sentence more than 5 years ago and who has demonstrated good cause for forgiveness

— Commutation – a reduction in an applicant’s sentence

Additional information on executive clemency can be found here.

Executive Clemency Grants

Adam Braseel of Grundy County – Executive Action: Exoneration

Brandon Benson of Anderson County – Executive Action: Pardon

Nathaniel Boyd of Shelby County – Executive Action: Pardon

Relerford Brown of Fentress County – Executive Action: Pardon

Charles Diffie of South Carolina – Executive Action: Pardon

Zenobia Dobson of Knox County – Executive Action: Pardon

Michael Graham of Perry County – Executive Action: Pardon

Tina Jackson of Haywood County – Executive Action: Pardon

Eugene Lee of Florida – Executive Action: Pardon

Quantel Lindsey of Georgia – Executive Action: Pardon

Jasbir Mann of Massachusetts – Executive Action: Pardon

Kevin Nunley of Bedford County – Executive Action: Pardon

Charles Sanderfur of Davidson County – Executive Action: Pardon

Kenney Simpson of Sullivan County – Executive Action: Pardon

Mindy Dodd of Rutherford County – Executive Action: Commutation to immediate parole eligibility

Jamie Grimes of Davidson County – Executive Action: Commutation to immediate parole eligibility

Charles Hall of Shelby County – Executive Action: Commutation to parole eligibility upon completing certain programming

Proclamations granting individuals clemency can be viewed here.

Updated Drug-Free School Zone Process

The Governor’s Office and the Tennessee Department of Correction will introduce a new clemency review process for drug-free school zone offenses committed prior to September 1, 2020.

This action follows legislation passed in the 2020 legislative session to reduce the school zone radius to 500 feet and to allow stiffer penalties only where vulnerable populations, such as children, were exposed to illicit drug activity.

The new process will expedite the review of convictions for those sentenced under prior Tennessee law to determine whether they merit consideration for a review of their sentence under the new law. There are currently 335 individuals incarcerated for drug-free school zone offenses committed prior to September 1, 2020.

To qualify, individuals must not have been involved in the sale or distribution to a minor or have incurred a drug-related disciplinary infraction within the past three years, including positive drug screens or dismissal from a treatment program.

Individuals who meet the qualifying criteria may apply here.