In 2016, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Yager that prohibits pretrial diversion for criminal suspects charged with domestic assault and child abuse. Senate Bill 1564 was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam and became law on July 1, 2016.
Pretrial diversion is the process in which the prosecutor halts the case against a defendant if he or she meets certain conditions like probation, counseling and community service, among others. If approved by the judge, the defendant walks out of the courtroom a free man — or woman — and the record is expunged in two years if there are no more infractions.
However, Sen. Yager believe that certain crimes do not deserve the privilege of pretrial diversion. “Wife beaters and child abusers need jail time, not diversion,” Sen. Yager explained as he introduced the bill. “These crimes are intentional crimes usually committed by someone in authority, like a spouse or a parent, for example. They are violent crimes against a person and statistics demonstrate that these perpetrators have usually abused someone multiple times before being apprehended.”
Joining Sen. Yager in sponsoring the bill in the Senate was Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville. The House of Representatives companion bill was sponsored by Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown.