Bill Lee on Crime



At least one Homeland Security Agent in each of our counties

Since 2019, Tennessee has done a lot of work to strengthen school safety. Every single person has a role to play in school safety. That's why we have a School Safety Toolkit for every parent, and we have the SafeTN App, where any Tennessean can report suspicious activity. This year, we're doubling down with new legislation to enhance physical security in classrooms. We're also proposing new funding to place at least one Homeland Security Agent in each of our 95 counties.
Source: 2023 State of the State Address to the Tennessee legislature , Feb 6, 2023

Respect rule of law; reject defund the police movement

We will commit more than $150 million directly into law enforcement agencies to create safer neighborhoods through the violent crime intervention grant fund. We are proposing more than $350 million that will support a new law enforcement training academy to ensure we have the most professional force in the country. Our funding commitment shows a respect for the rule of law but a rejection of the defund the police movement that we have seen across the country.
Source: 2022 State of the State Address to the Tennessee legislature , Jan 31, 2022

Improved enforcement training for police cadets

You've heard me say many times that we have to be tough on crime, and smart on crime. Safe neighborhoods require law enforcement that is well-supported and well-trained, and we have made a number of important strides for criminal justice reform and police training this year.

We've improved training standards and paid for almost 100 cadets to attend improved law enforcement training at no cost to their local communities.

Source: 2021 State of the State Address to the Tennessee legislature , Feb 8, 2021

Increase penalties for firearm theft & reckless endangerment

First and foremost, we must be tough on crime. Last year, we cracked down on fentanyl traffickers, and this year I propose increasing the criminal penalties associated with theft of a firearm and increasing the criminal penalties associated with reckless endangerment of a police officer or first responder.
Source: 2020 State of the State Address to the Tennessee legislature , Feb 3, 2020

Improve supervision; encourage hiring of former prisoners

First, we want to expand our recovery courts so that veterans and those struggling with addiction or mental health challenges will have access to specialized supervision. Second, we want to improve our use of community supervision, including at the end of a prison sentence. Third, we want to encourage those leaving prison to secure employment by revising the occupational licensing process and encouraging employers to hire the formerly incarcerated.
Source: 2020 State of the State Address to the Tennessee legislature , Feb 3, 2020

Electronic monitoring for low-risk offenders

One area of reform is our use of community supervision for low-risk offenders. It costs about 20 times more to incarcerate someone than to put them under community supervision, and the latter leads to better outcomes. One of the first things we will do is add funds to the Electronic Monitoring Indigency Fund and add the use of GPS monitoring so that low-risk, non-violent individuals can keep their jobs and provide for their families instead of spending unnecessary time in jail.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to the Tennessee legislature , Mar 6, 2019

Volunteer to mentor degree-seeking inmates

We are launching the Volunteer Mentorship Initiative to equip Tennesseans throughout our state to mentor fellow Tennesseans who are currently in prison. And I'm signing up tonight as the first volunteer. This initiative will begin by working with Tennessee-based non-profits to pair degree-seeking inmates with mentors on the outside as they seek better opportunities for themselves during their time in prison and their first days back in their communities.
Source: 2019 State of the State address to the Tennessee legislature , Mar 6, 2019

Sentences should be upheld and violent offenders prioritized

You can be both tough and smart on crime. I have been involved with a men's prison ministry. We work with ex-offenders to help them pursue a life of purpose inspired by Christ and achieve a chance to right past wrongs. I have come to a deeper understanding of how our criminal justice system works and how it can be improved. For one, we need truth-in-sentencing. Second, we must make sure our system prioritizes violent offenders over non-violent, creating a system that reduces recidivism.
Source: 2018 Tennessee Gubernatorial website BillLee.com , Jul 4, 2018

Men of Valor: re-entry program for former offenders

Lee said the 2000 death of his wife of 16 years in a horse-riding accident on the family's farm changed his life, from inspiring him to volunteer to how he viewed his work. He helped in a YMCA program aimed at assisting at-risk youth and mentored in Men of Valor, a re-entry program for former offenders.

That led him to become part of the state Higher Education Commission and a governor's task force on sentencing and recidivism. Lee said he developed "a vision for something bigger."

"What if I could make my life better for six and a half million people? That was a compelling thought to me," he said. "That is really what drove me to consider running for governor."

Source: US News & World Report on 2018 Tennessee gubernatorial race , Apr 23, 2017

Other governors on Crime: Bill Lee on other issues:
Gubernatorial Debates 2023:
KY: Incumbent Andy Beshear(D)
vs.State A.G. Daniel Cameron(R)

vs.Ambassador Kelly Craft(R)
vs.State Auditor Mike Harmon(R)
LA: Incumbent John Bel Edwards(D,term-limited)
vs.Jeff Landry(R)
vs.Shawn Wilson(D)
vs.John Schroder(R)
vs.Sharon Hewitt(R)
MS: Incumbent Tate Reeves(R)
vs.Bill Waller(R,withdrew)
vs.Brandon Presley(D)

Gubernatorial Debates 2024:
DE: Gov. John Carney (D, term-limited);
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long (D)
vs. Matt Meyer (D)
IN: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R, term-limited);
Sen. Mike Braun (R)
vs. Suzanne Crouch (R)
vs. Jennifer McCormick (D)
MO: Gov. Mike Parson (R, term-limited):
Jay Ashcroft (R)
vs. Bill Eigel (R)
vs. Mike Kehoe (R)
vs. Crystal Quade (D)
MT: Gov. Greg Gianforte (R)
vs. Tanner Smith (R)
vs. Ryan Busse (D)
Gubernatorial Debates 2024 (continued):
NC: Gov. Roy Cooper (D, term-limited);
Dale Folwell (R)
vs. Michael Morgan (D)
vs. Mark Robinson (R)
vs. Josh Stein (D)
vs. Andy Wells (R)
ND: Gov. Doug Burgum (R)
vs. State Rep. Rick Becker (R)
NH: Gov. Chris Sununu (R, retiring)
vs. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R)
vs. Joyce Craig (D)
vs. Chuck Morse (R)
vs. Cinde Warmington (D)
UT: Gov. Spencer Cox (R)
vs. State Rep. Phil Lyman (R)
VT: Gov. Phil Scott (R) unopposed
WA: Gov. Jay Inslee (D, retiring);
Hilary Franz (D, withdrew)
vs. State Sen. Mark Mullet (D)
vs. County Chair Semi Bird (R)
vs. WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D)
WV: Gov. Jim Justice (R, term-limited);
vs. WV State Auditor JB McCuskey (R, withdrew)
vs. WV Secretary of State Mac Warner (R)
vs. State Del. Moore Capito (R)
vs. WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R)
vs. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams (D)
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