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AWTN Legislative Priorities

Updated: Apr 8

While we are not sponsoring any bills this year, we are watching several. There are few we support but unfortunately, there are more we have serious concerns about. Generally, we feel that the Tennessee General Assembly is using punishment and incarceration as the primary means of addressing mental illness, unemployment, homelessness and other social issues. Instead of solving the issues by addressing the root causes, they are more concerned with targeting the people who are most affected, putting them under state surveillance and locking them away.

We don't need any more jails, prisons or police. We need jobs, homes, health care and education. None of what they are proposing provide that.

Here is our list:

Bills We Support


We think it is long overdue that prosecutors’ ability to hold innocent people responsible for murder simply because they were in the vicinity or had some other kind of connection to the person who actually committed the crime should be curtailed. 


We believe that this bill allows for people who were convicted of crimes as children to have a real second chance to re-enter society and rejoin their families and communities. Our co-organizer, Shawn’a Hatcher’s husband, Shawn Hatcher, could possibly be released if this bill is passed and be reunited with his family.

HB0279/SB0904 & HB1256/SB1241

Passage of these bills will help restore voting rights to people who have been convicted of felonies. It’s important that the right to vote be restored for people who have done their time and who are working to rebuild their lives on the outside.


We believe in compassionate release and that people should be able to live out their final years with their family, in their communities.


We hope that passage of this bill will make it easier to hold CoreCivic and other private prison operators accountable for the conditions inside their facilities and bring more transparency to how they are spending taxpayer money.


Phone calls are the primary way in which loved ones stay connected to their people on the inside. Currently these outrageous phone charges place an enormous financial burden on households who are already struggling. Passing this bill is essential in helping insiders stay connected. Insiders who are connected to their families and communities are more motivated to engage in rehabilitation and less likely to reoffend when they are released.


We appreciate that these bills take into consideration that young adults need additional time to fully mature and for their brains to fully develop. Our sentencing guidelines should take that into consideration.

Bills We Have Concerns About

HB2126/SB2569, HB2702/SB2626, HB2279/SB2696, HB1979/SB1703 & HB1106/SB0611

We have deep concerns about all of these bills which expand the offenses eligible for transfer into adult court and make it easier for kids to be transferred to adult court. We believe that instead of trying children as adults, we should be providing services to families in crisis, mental health services to kids, community based violence prevention programs and other services to children and families. Instead of punishing kids for acting out, we need to address the root causes of their distress and limit their too easy access to deadly weapons.

HB1718/SB2566 & HB1719/SB2565

We think that making it harder for people to post bail will not increase public safety but will cause jail populations to boom and have far reaching effects on poor people who have not been convicted of a crime and may be found innocent with their lives destroyed with no recourse.

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