NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After Chris Green was sentenced to four years probation on drug-related charges, he’s turning his life around through Men of Valor.
“I mean I was close to God in there, but there’s a lot of chaos going on around you, which is definitely weeded out around here,” he said. “You don’t have that.”
The organization aims to help rehabilitate formerly incarcerated people after they’re released. A big piece of that? Voting rights.
“The changes I made in my moral, the way I think and who I am, my whole character, there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be able to vote,” Green said.
“The most important thing we’ve got to do is let people get their life back,” said Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) when reporters asked him about the subject.
Once you’re convicted of a felony in the Volunteer State, you automatically lose your right to vote unless your conviction is expunged or you have your rights restored.
To get your rights restored, you either have to have a state or federal pardon or petition a county circuit court. Even that generally takes at least a few months, if not years.
That’s on top of having all court fines, fees, and restitution paid off, which usually also takes a paid attorney to help navigate.
“I just know that this is where God led me,” Green said. “I do think that they should change or redo the rules for that.”
Lee, speaking to reporters after a Men of Valor ribbon cutting for a new garden, essentially washed his hands of the issue, kicking any potential movement to the General Assembly.
“We’ll see if changes come. I think there’s a lot of change that’s occurred in this state. It will ultimately be up to the General Assembly – that decision,” Lee said. “But we have made significant changes in what happens to men coming out of prison, and we’ll keep looking at opportunities to do so.”
Green’s parole is up in 2027.