Press Releases

Haslam Creates Task Force on Sentencing, Recidivism

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 14, 2014:

Group to develop legislative and policy recommendations

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism as part of the administration’s overall effort to reduce crime and improve public safety.

In June, the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet announced a partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice to review sentencing and correction policies and practices. The creation of a task force is the next step in that collaboration.

“We have put a strong emphasis on addressing some of our state’s toughest safety challenges head on, and the Public Safety Subcabinet is doing great work,” Haslam said. “This task force is a next step in making sure we have a comprehensive approach to public safety in Tennessee. I am grateful to the Tennesseans who have agreed to dedicate their time to these issues, and I look forward to their recommendations.”

Members of the task force include:

  • John Campbell, criminal court judge, Memphis
  • John DeBerry, state representative, Memphis
  • James Dunn, district attorney general, 4th judicial district
  • Tim Fuller, sheriff, Franklin County
  • Bill Gibbons, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
  • Mark Gwyn, director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Kim Helper, district attorney general, 21st judicial district
  • Torry Johnson, district attorney general (retired), Nashville
  • Brian Kelsey, state senator, Germantown
  • William Lamberth, state representative, Cottontown
  • Linda Leathers, chief executive officer, The Next Door
  • William B. Lee, chief executive officer, Lee Company of Tennessee
  • Jon Lundberg, state representative, Bristol
  • Mark Luttrell, mayor, Shelby County
  • Becky Duncan Massey, state senator, Knoxville
  • Gerald Melton, public defender, 16th judicial district
  • Richard Montgomery, chairman, Tennessee Board of Parole
  • Seth Norman, criminal court judge, Nashville
  • Bill Oldham, sheriff, Shelby County
  • David Rausch, chief of police, Knoxville
  • Derrick Schofield, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Correction
  • John Stevens, state senator, Huntingdon
  • Blair Taylor, president, Memphis Tomorrow
  • D. Kelly Thomas, court of criminal appeals judge, Knoxville
  • Doug Varney, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Amy Weirich, district attorney general, Shelby County
  • Verna Wyatt, executive director, Tennessee Voices for Victims

The current sentencing structure in Tennessee has been in place for more than 20 years. An examination will ensure that the structure is in line with the variety and severity of criminal behavior. Establishing an effective set of sentencing laws can resolve inconsistencies and avoid discrepancies that compromise public safety.

The task force will receive assistance from the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. Vera staff will conduct data and policy analysis; identify expertise and resources to support the work of the task force; facilitate meetings and assist in the development of the task force recommendations.

The Vera Institute of Justice is a national, independent, non-partisan justice policy and research organization based in New York. Vera has decades of experience partnering with state and local governments across the United States to improve justice systems.

The task force will submit its recommendations to the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet by June 2015.

The subcabinet was created by Haslam in 2011 and launched a multi-year public safety action plan in 2012. The group includes commissioners of the departments of Safety and Homeland Security, Correction, Mental Health, Children’s Services, Health and Military, along with the chairman of the Tennessee Board of Parole, directors of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Office of Criminal Justice Programs, Law Enforcement Training Academy and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Press Releases

TN Right to Life Praises Shelby Co. for Denying Planned Parenthood Contract

Press Release from Tennessee Right to Life, Sept. 14, 2011:

The Commercial Appeal reported Wednesday morning that the Shelby County Public Health Department will no longer be contracting with Planned Parenthood’s Memphis affiliate, a decision which effectively ends a decades long practice in which the Tennessee Department of Health automatically awarded federal Title X family planning funds to Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities. Tennessee Right to Life has led the public fight since 2006 to defund the nation’s foremost abortion provider by directing the funds to ethical health care providers instead.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell stated that the family planning contract will awarded to Christ Community Health Services, a non-profit health service provider which does not perform or refer for abortion. Luttrell said that a six-person team of local health care professionals and members of his administration ranked three proposals and selected Christ Community. The contract must now be approved by the Shelby County Commission, likely within the next several weeks.

The action in Memphis follows similar developments last June when the Nashville Public Health Department announced that it would accept all available Title X family planning funds previously directed to Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. As a result, no 2011-12 Title X funds were awarded to the Nashville abortion facility either. At stake were grants totaling $1,062,500.00 which would otherwise have been directed to Planned Parenthood.

Both decisions to re-direct funds away from Planned Parenthood affiliates followed intense public outcry when the Tennessee Legislature failed to strip funding for the abortion behemoth. A pro-life amendment to the state budget by Senator Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) was secretly undone when still publicly unidentified legislators inserted their own amendment into the state budget restoring the funding for Planned Parenthood. Governor Haslam acted administratively to identify alternative means of providing the services while fulfilling his campaign commitment to prevent funds from being directed to Planned Parenthood.

Tennessee Right to Life heralded today’s announcement. “Pro-life Tennesseans have proven again what can be positively accomplished for the protection of life when we work together,” said Brian Harris, the group’s president. “Pro-life voters have spoken in a consistent manner over the course of years and their elected officials—councilmen, commissioners, legislators, mayors, congressmen and our Governor—they have all joined the long effort to protect life and Tennessee’s taxpayers. Tennessee Right to Life thanks its members and these pro-life public officials for this long-awaited announcement today.”

Press Releases

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products to Build Transformers in Memphis

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Feb. 14, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today joined with Brian Heery, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to announce the company’s decision to invest $200 million to build a production facility for electric transformers in the Rivergate Industrial Park in Memphis, Tennessee, creating up to 275 new jobs. The new facility will produce extra-high voltage shell type power transformers and will be Mitsubishi’s national headquarters for the production of heavy electrical equipment. Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc is part of a business group owned by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Tokyo, Japan.

“I’m thankful that Mitsubishi Electric Power Products has chosen to make its investment in Tennessee as we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” said Governor Haslam. “Memphis has many unique advantages in its location and existing assets, and it is the right place for this project given Tennessee’s more than half century of innovation in the field of energy technology and our state’s longstanding economic and cultural ties to Japan.”

“Nationally, there is a debate around whether our nation’s aging power grid is adequate to meet the needs of a growing economy,” said Commissioner Hagerty. “Mitsubishi Electric’s Memphis facility will play an important role in making sure our energy infrastructure is efficient, reliable and globally competitive.”

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products’ President and CEO Brian Heery said Memphis was selected following a nationwide search.

“We needed a large, waterfront site near a city large enough to support our recruiting and training goals,” said Mr. Heery. “This will be a world-class facility capable of meeting our customers’ needs for quality, reliability and cost. We believe Memphis is the right place and we look forward to becoming active in the community.”

“Memphis’ ability to provide a skilled, trainable workforce, along with our clear logistics advantages were key to successfully landing this project,” said Mayor Wharton. “I’m proud the strong partnership between our community, the Greater Memphis Chamber and the state of Tennessee has resulted in new opportunity for our citizens.”

“We’ve seen strong momentum in Memphis and Shelby County in recent months in terms of job growth,” said Mayor Luttrell. “Some of the world’s most respected companies are looking closely at Shelby County for investment and expansion and that tells me our strong business climate is getting the attention of corporate decision makers.”

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products plans to build a 350,000 square foot facility on approximately 100 acres in the Rivergate Industrial Park. Construction is slated to begin in late spring 2011 with production starting in 2013. The site search was led by McCallum-Sweeney of Greenville, SC and O’Neal, Inc of Greenville, SC has been hired as the facility’s general contractor. The company will begin immediately looking for skilled engineers and factory workers with plans to open the facility with 90 employees, growing to 275 at full production. Mitsubishi Electric Power Products says most of the jobs at the facility to be filled locally and the company expects additional jobs to be created by the facility’s need for suppliers of machined and fabricated materials. Interested job applicants can learn more at Mitsubishi Electric’s web site, by clicking on “careers.”

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to create higher skilled, better paying jobs for all Tennesseans. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go to or

About Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc.

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. was incorporated in 1985 to supply products to electric utility companies in North America. Today, the company is headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania with a national workforce of approximately 600 employees. During its past 25 years, the company has expanded into other markets including the transportation, water treatment, and power quality industries. While most of its products aren’t obvious to the general public, numerous sporting and entertainment venues feature the company’s world-famous Diamond Vision® large-display screens. In fact, the world’s largest high-definition video display is at Cowboys Stadium. Information on Mitsubishi Electric Power Products complete line of products and services can be found at

Press Releases

Shelby Co. Mayor Supports Sen. Norris-Rep. Todd ‘Effort to Ensure Orderly Transition of Schools’

Press Release from the Office Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Feb. 3, 2011:

Shelby County, TN. – Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell supports a State Senate bill that calls for a planning commission to be established to oversee the transition of Memphis and Shelby County Schools should they merge.

The initiative, known as “Senate Bill 25” was passed today in Nashville by the Senate Education Committee by a 6 to 3 vote. “The bill meets two major requirements; an orderly transition of operations and an effective way to keep the public informed,” said Mayor Luttrell.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Mark Norris, also calls for a three-year transition period to ensure an orderly merging of the two school systems. The planning commission will be made up of 21 members.

The county mayor and the chairs of the Memphis City School Board and the Shelby County School Board would serve as Ex- Officio members and each shall appoint five citizens to serve on the planning commission. The other three members would be jointly appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.

The commission would prioritize the many issues that would affect students and employees of the two school systems. Once completed, the commission’s recommendations would be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Education for review.

Luttrell said he intends to talk with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, the suburban municipal mayors, and the Shelby County Commission concerning possible appointments should the bill pass.

“I commend Senator Norris for his leadership on this issue. I would hope the committee’s work would be completed sooner than three years. However, as indicated in early January, I think it is absolutely critical that a clear and legal transition process take place. While this measure won’t stop the planned referendum, it will help ensure the needs of all public school children in Shelby County are met,” Luttrell added. “Senate Bill 25” will be taken up for discussion tomorrow by the Tennessee House of Representatives Education Subcommittee.