NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new state law has the power to reduce prison sentences for hundreds of drug offenders in Tennessee.
In 2020, the state legislature passed legislation that no longer requires mandatory minimum sentences for those caught buying or selling drugs on school grounds – meaning there were no previously required sentences. option of amnesty or early release.
The law also shortened drug-free school zones from 1,000 to 500 feet around schools.
But that law does not take effect retroactively for those who have been behind bars for the crime until April 2022.
Last month, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that would allow courts to reduce sentences for drug offenses on school grounds if the action took place more than 500 feet away from the school property or if an attorney can prove it. demonstrate that this behavior poses no danger to any children.
On Wednesday, a Nashville woman became the first person in Tennessee to have her sentence reduced under that new law.
Jenica Gant was previously convicted of selling drugs in her home in 2011. At the time, it was within 1,000 feet of the school district. She was sentenced to 15 years.
But in court on Wednesday, Judge Steve Dozier of Nashville agreed that Gant did not threaten any of the children because of her drug dealings that occurred during the summer when the children were not in school.
“I have stood here as an adult from my own decisions,” Gant said. “It affects everyone I connect with. Even though I don’t have immediate victims, I still have victims.”
Gant apologized to friends and family and thanked the court for reducing her sentence.
“For anyone who hasn’t decided on the right path, they should decide on the right path,” Gant said.
Sunny Eaton with the Nashville County District Attorney’s Office is the director of the Conviction Review Unit. She said that Gant’s case was “symbolic” of the kind of “injustice” caused by school district laws banning drugs.
“None of Ms Gant’s offenses occurred at a time or place where the children were actually exposed. They were in the summer. They were at night. They are on her own property,” Eaton said. “I think you would find in any urban area, especially in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, people living near schools.”
Eaton said Nashville County Attorney Glenn Funk is committed to addressing injustices in the community. His office has identified 20 to 30 cases similar to Gant’s for which they are petitioning.
“These laws have been put in place and these arrests have been made in ways that illustrate injustice, frankly lead to abuse and excessive policy control and contribute to incarceration,” Eaton said. series.
⏩ Find more top stories from wkrn.com
Gant is expected to be released from prison as early as Wednesday night.
https://www.wkrn.com/news/tennessee-politics/nashville-woman-1st-in-state-to-receive-reduced-drug-sentence-under-new-school-zone-law/ Nashville woman 1st in state to receive reduced drug sentence under new school zone law