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Tennessee is a state that is highly supportive of private for-profit prisons.
Regardless of different stances on the state of social inequities that may or may not exist, there is no doubt that there are certainly issues that exist. As someone who has spent more than two decades as a television documentarian, I feel that I have a unique perspective that may help you to decide, as I have, to vote for Dr. Jane George.
Much of my career was spent covering crime and the ways it impacts our society. I’ve interviewed across the field including one of OJ Simpson’s defense attorneys (Robert Shapiro), the Assistant State Attorney (Bernie De La Rionda) who handled the failed attempt to convict George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, hundreds of police officers (including several police ride-alongs in Minneapolis where George Floyd was murdered), and even more family members devastated by violent crime. More importantly, I’ve heard directly what gets said off-camera. Believe me, that is a shocking insight into what really happens beyond any spin from city public relations folks or the media.
Fixing problems with the criminal justice system won’t fix all of our ills, but it is a massive step.
That’s because the attitudes of law enforcement and the court system have a huge influence over many other sectors of the population. They directly influence public opinions (right or wrong), whom businesses choose to hire, where cities decide to place environmentally toxic facilities that create serious illness in citizens, and encourage divisive behavior between people of all races, religions, and orientations.
Trickling further down, theses attitudes impact community decisions regarding funding for certain schools, community parks, and care of basic infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, and sanitation. Tennessee is a state that is highly supportive of private for-profit prisons. In concept, the idea of privatizing the legal system may seem inoffensive. In reality, it has lead to companies such as CoreCivic, which is responsible for the housing and care of more than 30,000 inmates (often in sub-par conditions), to work to financially influence local police and prosecutors to increase arrests and prosecutions. This in turn has lead to “certain” attitudes towards “certain” demographics deemed as “easy prey” (one homicide’s detective’s words, not mine) to become pervasive. In essence, certain segments of the population are viewed as less likely to hire attorneys to fight charges ranging from lesser crimes all the way to murder due to a lack of funds and a distrust in the system treating them fairly. Dr. Jane George has made working to correct situations like these a major priority. I’ve heard the district attorney of a prominent city make light of how a death-penalty conviction led to not only to a re-election, but also to a nice vacation. By the way, in discussing that exact case with several other area assistant DA’s, public defenders, law enforcement officials, and even the judge… after the execution… it was widely agreed that the conviction was a bad one. I could tell you more, but it only gets worse. Want to avoid more terrible situations like this and start to address societal inequities? I highly recommend voting for Dr. Jane George.