clemency

National campaign underway to free Nashville man sent back to federal prison after being released in 2016

More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the release of Matthew Charles from federal prison, reports WPLN, and the Nashville man’s case is otherwise getting considerable national attention – including a New York Times story suggesting he could be a candidate for clemency granted by President Donald Trump.

Charles was sentenced to 35 years in prison for selling cocaine in 1996, then freed in 2016 under a sentence-reduction program launched by former President Barack Obama – only to be sent back behind bars last week after courts ruled he technically didn’t qualify — though, by all accounts, he has led an exemplary life both while serving time and since his 2016 release.

Continue reading

Parole board splits on whether Haslam should grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown

The state Board of Paroles split three ways Wednesday in a voting on whether to recommend that Gov. Bill Haslam grant some form of clemency Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman serving a life sentence for a murder she committed in 2004 at age 16, reports The Tennessean. The upshot is no clear suggestion to Haslam, who has said he’s aware of the case that has received national attention while giving indication of his inclinations.

Continue reading

State approves $1 million in reparations for man imprisoned 31 years

Lawrence McKinney, cleared of a rape conviction after spending more than three decades in prison, has become the first person in the state to receive $1 million in reparations from the state, the maximum allowed under Tennessee law, reports WTVF.

Continue reading

Congressional candidate’s ex-wife asks Haslam for pardon (via email)

Allison Burchett, ex-wife of Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and reportedly a “confidential informant” for the FBI since their 2012 divorce, has asked Gov. Bill Haslam to pardon her conviction for misdemeanor cyber crimes – part of a plea bargain arrangement – before he leaves office next January, reports Cari Wade Gervin.

The request came in a Dec. 13 email that the Nashville Post report says is similar to one sent this week to “dozens if not hundreds of people” by Allison Burchett contending Tim Burchett and others “orchestrated the false accusations” against her. Burchett is currently running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

Continue reading

Haslam goes against parole board, exonerates man in 1978 rape conviction

Press release from Gov. Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on the exoneration of Lawrence McKinney:

“Today I granted Lawrence McKinney’s request for gubernatorial exoneration from his 1978 convictions. Though the facts of this case are complex and reasonable minds may draw different conclusions from them, ultimately I respect the determinations of the Shelby County Criminal Court and District Attorney General that Mr. McKinney was not guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted and would not have been prosecuted if the DNA testing results had been available at the time of trial. Mr. McKinney was released after more than 30 years in prison when the court set aside his convictions in 2009.

“In the eyes of the judicial system, Mr. McKinney is innocent. While I appreciate the hard work and recommendations of the Board of Parole, in this case I defer to the finding of the court charged with determining Mr. McKinney’s guilt or innocence.”

McKinney, 61, was convicted of rape and burglary in Shelby County. had his record expunged after his release from prison where he spent 31 years.

Further, from The Tennessean:

Although he was out of prison and had his record expunged, McKinney still sought an executive exoneration from the governor to enable him to file for compensation with the Tennessee Board of Claims.

McKinney had the support from state Rep. Mark Pody, Pastor John Hunn of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon and attorneys Jack Lowery and David Raybin in his efforts.

…The Tennessee Board of Parole voted unanimously against recommending exoneration for McKinney in 2016. At the time, at least one parole board member questioned the completeness of the DNA evidence that cleared McKinney. 

The governor is not bound to follow that recommendation and can either grant, deny or choose not to act on an executive clemency request.

Haslam to consider clemency for reported sex abuse victim who committed murder at age 16

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says his administration has begun gathering information on Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman whose murder conviction has become a cause célèbre, reports WPLN. But a decision on whether to grant her clemency is unlikely to come until the last days of his term in January, 2019, in keeping with a tradition established by predecessors.

Brown was convicted more than a decade ago for the murder of a Nashville man. Advocates for Brown say she was caught up in a so-called “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline.” At 16 years old at the time of the crime, Brown says she was the victim of sex trafficking.

Continue reading

Obama commutes sentences of five Tennesseans; grants pardons to two

President Barack Obama commuted the sentences Monday of five Tennesseans jailed on drug-related charges and pardoned two others convicted of non-violent crimes, reports Michael Collins.

In all, Obama commuted the sentences of 153 people across the country, including Rodney Bates of Milan, Amilcar Butler of Nashville, Joseph Lee Gulledge Jr. of Chattanooga, Kari Nicole Parks of Bristol and Timothy Orlando Rainey of Nashville.

Seventy-eight others received presidential pardons, including Kenneth Shannon Meadows of Celina and Allen Thompson Sherwood of Ooltewah.

The White House press release is HERE. Below is a cut-and-paste of information provided therein on each of the Tennesseans.

Continue reading