Knox leader on governor’s task force for criminal justice

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders, Powell

Gov. Bill Lee has named Knoxville business owner Josh Smith as one of five executive team members on criminal justice reform. Smith is founder and owner of Master Service Companies, which includes MasterDry, based at 6226 Clinton Highway.

Josh Smith

Smith is a hard-charging, hands-on businessman – not one to sit on committees. But this topic is important to him.

“Criminal justice reform is something long overdue, and all states realize it’s a big challenge,” he said. “It’s exciting that we have a governor who is intent on fixing some of the many challenges with the criminal justice system here in Tennessee, and he has assembled a great team to help suggest the best ways to accomplish this.

“It’s an honor for me to have been asked to be on this task force, and I look forward to serving the governor, the state of Tennessee and all those impacted by the current criminal justice system.”

The task force was established by Executive Order 6 and is a priority of Lee, who wants to improve both public safety and re-entry by those who have been incarcerated.

“Our task force represents multiple perspectives including law enforcement, state agencies, crime victims and families, community leaders and formerly incarcerated individuals,” Lee said in a press statement.

In addition to Smith, the task force steering committee includes Brandon Gibson from Lee’s office, Bill Gibbons from the University of Memphis, Decosta Jenkins from Nashville Electric and Torry Johnson from Belmont University.

The task force also includes appointees who will oversee key areas for study. Over the next two legislative sessions, the task force will develop legislative and budgetary recommendations regarding:

  • Crime prevention and recidivism reduction
  • Punishing violent crime promptly and effectively
  • Supporting crime victims and their families
  • Addressing mental-health and substance-abuse issues that lead to incarceration
  • Revising sentencing guidelines and parole/probation standards
  • Addressing the rising fiscal and social costs of incarceration
  • Preparing inmates to re-enter society and find pathways outside of crime through education and technical job training
  • Equipping families and communities with tools to help returning citizens become productive members of society

The recently completed legislative session passed measures to crack down on fentanyl traffickers, increase pay for corrections officers, increase the training-pay supplement for first responders and law enforcement, reduce expungement fees and increase educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals, according to the press statement.

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