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VOL. 40 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 16, 2016

Groups cross ideological lines for criminal justice reform

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Advocacy and business groups from opposite ends of the political spectrum are joining forces to press for criminal justice reform in Tennessee.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the Tennessee Association of Goodwills and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce are among the groups forming the Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice.

The coalition will promote reforms to the criminal justice system that enhance public safety, promote rehabilitation and re-entry, and save taxpayer dollars, according to a release.

"Our current criminal justice system is functioning like a revolving door," ACLU-TN executive director Hedy Weinberg said in the release. "We as a state can and must do better to ensure public safety, fair treatment and equality in the justice system. This coalition will be a powerful advocate for smart-on-crime policies at the legislature."

Justin Owen, president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, said the current system isn't working and is making Tennessee less safe.

In the beginning, the coalition will pursue legislation focused on juvenile justice, sentencing reform and recidivism reduction.

Before the legislative session begins, the group plans to hold a series of town hall meetings and reach out to other organizations with an interest in criminal justice reform across the state.

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