Sentencing and Bail- Acting on a bill introduced last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 453 this week clarifying that release eligibility for first degree murder defendants sentenced to life in prison prior to July 1, 1995 will be treated the same as those who commit the offense after that date. The action follows a Tennessee State Supreme Court ruling in the Cyntoia Brown case which shed light on an ambiguity in state law dealing with life sentences for those convicted of first-degree murder between November 1980 and July 1995. The bill also creates a Class A misdemeanor offense for violating a condition of release for those charged with domestic violence, child abuse, or stalking to protect crime victims. It authorizes the bail of that person can be revoked by the court with jurisdiction over the condition of release. Finally, the legislation requires the venue of the new offense be the county where the violation of the condition of release occurred.
Adoption Law- Both houses have now approved Senate Bill 1304, which provides that “to the extent allowed by federal law, no private licensed child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” The bill would allow some adoption agencies to reject same sex couples as adoptive parents.