Parent files lawsuit against Coffee County Schools
Assistant District Attorney General for the14th Judicial District, Jason Ponder has posted an long statement questioning a bill introduced by Janice Bowing that Sentencing reduces the portion of a person's sentence for first degree murder that must be served prior to becoming eligible for parole to 60 percent of 60 years if sentenced to imprisonment for life for an offense committed during certain dates or 100 percent of 60 years if sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. 
 
The post said that a quiet movement is  afoot that simply needs a light shone
upon it.
 

"Elected officials need to be accountable. I’ve chosen my lunch hour today to share this with you," Ponder wrote. 
 
 
The content of the post is listed below: 
 
Since 1995, the punishment for First Degree Murder in Tennessee had three options that were to be determined by a jury. This is the only crime in Tennessee where the people themselves choose the punishment. The options are: life, life “without parole”, or death.
 
Life, according to our law, is defined as 60 years. This means a person who commits the worst crime possible in Tennessee must serve 51 years of his or her life before expiring their sentence (they get 15% “good time”). Although many lawyers, law-makers, and people misinterpret this as “parole,” it is not.
 
There is no parole for First Degree Murder. Yet.
 
Life without parole is just that… life. You are incarcerated until you die. This sentence can only be imposed by a jury, or as part of a plea deal (most often to avoid the death penalty).
 
Death is again just that… death. You are incarcerated until the state executes you or you die of other causes.
 
But now there are those in our Tennessee General Assembly, who not only wish to reduce the sentence for First Degree Murder but also retroactively change the sentence of everyone serving a sentence for First Degree Murder in Tennessee (with the only exception being death row inmates).
They want to do this by making First Degree Murder a parole-eligible offense after 25 years. Also, they want to add life without parole to the list of crimes that are eligible for that 15% off that I mentioned earlier.
This means that juries who have agonized over the worst of the worst cases in our communities and handed out justice are being overruled by people who know absolutely nothing about the case. This means deals that ensured the murderer would never be released will be overruled by people who know absolutely nothing about the case. In my years I have seen vicious murders of children, elderly, and even a cannibal who would all now be granted the opportunity to rejoin our society earlier.
Is this what you want?
 
Senator Janice Bowling,
… you told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was currently a sentence of “life with the possibility of parole.” That is not true. There is no such thing. You told the Senate Judiciary Committee that after 51 years, a person is “eligible” for release. That is not true. A person serving a life sentence expires after 51 years and is released automatically. You told the Senate Judiciary Committee that your bill would not change the sentence of life without parole. That is not true. Your bill places life without the possibility of parole on the list of crimes that get up to 15% off their sentence. 15% off what? If they have no possibility of parole, then the only possible interpretation is that you are now measuring life without parole as 60 years… which means someone serving life without the possibility of parole would serve 51 years and be released. So you are changing it. You either don’t understand what you are doing or you are being dishonest. I assume it is the former. In case you’ve forgotten, here is the video of your words (https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx...).
 
If you want to change the law going forward… fine. But please do not make retroactive provisions that you apparently do not understand. Please reconsider letting murders from your district out early such as: Thomas Greenwood (who savagely beat a 4 year old to death in Tullahoma and then played video games while watching him die), or Marcus Wade (who gunned down two police informants as part of a gang hit behind the old Casa Mexico in Tullahoma), Matthew Perkins (who tortured and slaughtered a mother and her two sons in Manchester), or Thomas Allen (who viciously killed a 19-year-old girl in Tullahoma by stabbing her 25 times in order to steal her money), or Jeffrey Smithson (who savagely tied up and 81 year-old woman and beat and strangled her to death for a few hundred dollars), or Gregory Hale (who brutally murdered, dismembered, and consumed portions of his victim)…. Senator just let me know if you want more examples or speak to the investigators, paramedics, victim support staff, prosecutors, judges, jurors, or any number of others who carry permanent scars from these atrocities.
Instead of blindly doing this, come look at the files Senator. Take a look at what these people did before you advocate for their freedom. Talk to the families of the victims… most of whom are your constituents. See the grief in their eyes when you tell them the resolutions and closure they’ve reached will now be ripped back open year after year wondering when the monster who took their loved one will be released under your plan.
 
As a career prosecutor and public servant, I have grieved with more families and carry a lot of scars from bearing witness to atrocities that most cannot imagine. I genuinely care about the families of these victims. When you spend years getting justice for them, you often develop a close relationship with them. I am passionate about it. I will not stop fighting for them.