Upcoming “Solutions Summit” aims to help local governments find innovative solutions to the cost and safety aspects of a growing prison population

NASHVILLE – When State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Representative Vince Dean (R-East Ridge) passed legislation last year to help local governments recover medical expenses for inmates in their custody who receive mandated medical care outside of jail, they knew it would benefit taxpayers across the state in paying for the escalating costs of incarceration. The idea for the legislation came from a “Solutions Summit” hosted by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank.

On November 5, Burchett and Frank will host the second Solutions Summit which will explore innovative ideas to compliment the highly successful new law on how to handle increasing jail populations and the resulting impact on public safety, the financial resources of local counties and the workload in judicial districts across East Tennessee.

House of Representative Speaker Beth Harwell will open the summit, while Senator Bell will join corrections experts from around the state and nation to help facilitate discussions on the next step to realize cost savings.

“Tennessee’s new law sets out a framework and legal basis for counties to reduce medical expenses for inmates who receive medical care outside of a jail,” said Senator Bell, who is Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. “While it does not solve all the issues surrounding the rapidly-increasing costs of incarceration in Tennessee, it provides some immediate relief to government budgets that are spending more to address these issues at the detriment of other needs.”

The event will take place at 8:00 am EST at Calhoun’s on the River in downtown Knoxville.

“The first summit was tremendously successful,” said Mayor Burchett. “The goal of this summit is to ensure that local governments are utilizing the new law, as well as find new means to produce cost savings for taxpayers.”

“State prisons and county jails are an ever-expanding cost that governments across Tennessee are struggling to manage,” said Mayor Frank. “We expect a fast-paced but information filled event, with the ultimate goal mirroring our original summit. The desire is to explore innovative solutions and at the end of the day, leave with a foundation for draft legislation or requests, that we, as a group, can deliver to the General Assembly to help counties with these costs.”

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