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Measure Sponsored By Representative Zachary Reforming Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System Passes

(NASHVILLE) — A measure sponsored by State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) reforming Tennessee’s juvenile justice system has passed in both the House and Senate chambers.

House Bill 2271, also known as the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, recently passed by a 98-1 vote tally in the House. The measure overhauls the current system of juvenile justice for the first time in more than 20 years by tackling inefficiencies and variations.

The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 — part of Governor Haslam’s legislative package for the year — is a collaborative process that addresses justice by geography. It includes $4.5 million in the Governor’s 2018-2019 budget for targeted investments that support evidence-based programming and community resources — especially in our rural and distressed counties.

Additionally, House Bill 2271 empowers members of local law enforcement communities to intervene in instances involving minor offenses in order to better address the underlying issues. It also limits probation and incarceration for minor offenses while also maintaining judicial discretion.

Research suggests that taking youth out of their homes and schools for minor offenses increases the risk of recidivism, diverts resources from youth who pose a risk to the community, and unnecessarily uses taxpayer dollars. Often, community-based services are more effective and are a wiser use of resources.

House Bill 2271 provides consistency and additional solutions that reduce recidivism rates and save the state money.

“Juvenile justice reform is long overdue in our state, and House Bill 2271 is an appropriate first step in the process,” said Representative Zachary. “Forty-four percent of our current cases on the books involve minor infractions, and these can be resolved without state involvement. These local solutions allow us to better manage our resources and will move our children away from a lifetime of dependency by supporting their desires for successful futures.”

For more information about House Bill 2271, please click here.

Jason Zachary serves as the Vice-Chair of the House & Insurance Banking Committee. He is also a member of the House Transportation Committee and the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. Zachary lives in Knoxville and represents House District 14, which includes part of Knox County. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling (615) 741-2264.

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