Diane Black unveils opioid, public safety plan; calls for addicts to be treated in prison

Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black is releasing her first major policy proposal concerning the opioid crisis and her plans for keeping Tennesseans safe.

The plan calls for rehabbing drug addicts in prison as a cost-saving measure, and hiring 25 new TBI agents to help fight drug trafficking (Gov. Bill Haslam is calling for 10 new agents in this year’s budget).

The initiative also calls for jailing demonstrators who “block streets, riot and engage in violent acts in the name of ‘protest,'” and for boosting penalties for people who “desecrate monuments or incite or abet others in desecrating a monument.”

See the full release here:


Nashville, Tenn. – Today, Diane Black released her first major policy proposal, a comprehensive plan to combat the opioid crisis and keep Tennessee safe. As a nurse who still holds her license today, Diane was trained to go to the root causes and diagnose problems from the bottom up.

Diane has worked with her Law and Order Coalition, as well as health care professionals from across the state to make sure the folks dealing with this crisis on the ground were integral in creating the solution. 

“The opioid epidemic is a scourge on our society and I firmly believe the next Governor of Tennessee will be judged by how she handles this crisis,” said Diane Black. “My plan attacks the root causes of the crisis by going after pill mills and the manufacturers who are misleading patients and overprescribing, as well as giving health care professionals the resources they need to care for the addicted.”   

“In other parts of our state, crime is decimating communities that have been taken over by gangs and drug trafficking. I will always stand with law enforcement and am committed to giving them the resources they need to attack this problem head on. As Governor, our law enforcement will know that they have an ally in Nashville who will fight for them.”

Combating the Opioid Crisis:

  • Prosecute pill mills – I will hold over-prescribers accountable.
  • Rehab drug addicts in prison – We’ve got to try something new – drug abuse takes lives and has cost Tennessee taxpayers over a billion dollars. We are wasting money constantly re-arresting drug addicts – let’s rehab them in prison.  It’s not expensive; in fact, a Kentucky program has saved taxpayer dollars.
  • Go after the bad actors. Tennessee is blessed with a provider community that is second to none.  But I will pursue the bad actors and sue manufacturers who misled health care providers and patients about the addictive nature of their products.
  • Increase oversight and law enforcement capabilities. I will hire more TBI agents and empower them to search data – that we already collect – for evidence of overprescribing.
    • Increase the penalty for the manufacture, sale, and/or delivery of fentanyl greater than 0.5 grams from a C felony to a B felony, and greater than 150 grams to an A felony. This proposal recognizes that fentanyl is a dangerous and ever increasingly abused substance, deserving punishment similar to that of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.  
    • Broaden the second-degree murder statute to include the killing of another which results from the unlawful distribution or dispensing of any scheduled substance on the Tennessee Drug Control Act of 1989 (including controlled substance analogs) when the drug alone, or in combination with other scheduled substances, is the proximate cause of death of the user.
  • Regulate prescriptions. Integrate real-time access to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database without any additional administrative burden on providers. Set a date by which ALL opioid prescriptions are written online, allowing doctors to see if someone is doctor shopping.  Virginia passed a law setting the date for 2020.
  • Protect patients. Too many Tennesseans are overdosing on prescription drugs. I will encourage compounding pharmacies and drug manufacturers to include emetics in their formulations so drugs will be expelled at overdose levels.
    • We also need to remove obstacles for clinics that offer non-pharmaceutical solutions to pain.

Keeping Tennessee Safe:

  • Give law enforcement the resources they need. I will push for funding for 25 more Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents to combat drug trafficking and gang violence and hire crime lab personnel. In addition, I will provide more resources to district attorneys and local law enforcement.
  • School Safety. Allocate more resources for mental health screenings and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Increase funding for school safety and ensure that points of entry to schools and school grounds are limited, controlled and staffed by an adult trained to determine if potential visitors belong there or not.
  • Institute truth in sentencing for felony convictions. Establish a clear minimum period of incarceration that is conveyed to all interested parties at the time of sentencing.  
  • Get tough on repeat offenders. We can’t keep letting repeat offenders walk the streets with our kids.
    • Enhance sentences for (a) third or subsequent drug trafficking offenders and (b) third or subsequent aggravated burglary (home burglary) offenders.
    • Enhance sentences for repeat domestic violence offenders by making third and subsequent convictions for domestic violence assault a felony rather than a misdemeanor, as is the case currently.
    • For domestic violence cases, allow (a) law enforcement to seek emergency orders of protection and (b) automatic orders of protection for cases in which deadly force is used.
  • Maintain law and order. Jail and aggressively prosecute those who block streets, riot and engage in violent acts in the name of “protest.”
    • Increase penalties for those who desecrate monuments or incite or abet others in desecrating a monument.



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