No Exceptions Prison Collective is a grassroots initiative in Nashville, TN, dedicated to ending carceral enslavement by advocating that no exceptions be made to the abolition of slavery.  We were founded and are led by individuals directly impacted by carceral slavery – both insiders (prisoners) and free world folk.

What do we mean by “abolition of slavery”?

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

We are abolitionists because we oppose and abhor all forms of human slavery and trafficking. We understand that the Thirteenth Amendment did not abolish slavery, rather, it carved out an exception for its continued existence. Today mass incarceration through the prison industrial complex (PIC) is the embodiment of carceral slavery, and to the end of the elimination of mass incarceration and the PIC, we are abolitionists.

To be clear, we recognize that when harm occurs in a community it may be necessary to separate those whose immediate physical actions have resulted in harm to another. Social separation is necessary at times.  However, such separation should seek to create the space for transformative justice to assess the needs of survivors, those who have caused harm, and the community as a whole – ultimately resulting in the restoration of the individual to his or her community. A retributive system of criminal punishment is contrary to the common good and ensures the continued existence of community wide trauma and enslavement.

In light of numerous other countries with far superior models of restorative justice, the logical and damning conclusion is that the United States intentionally maintains a system of slavery in the interest of profit and the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown communities and the poor. The policies and procedures of state prison systems are intentionally obscure and contradictory and once inside the system individuals have almost no public voice and little to no control over their lives. Families of prisoners also have minimal control over the often arbitrary and retributive decisions visited upon the mind and body of a loved one.
Like chattel slavery of the past, families are destroyed and decisions to ship enslaved loved
ones are made with no consideration to the broader and long-term impact to the community. When humans are warehoused with no chance for restoration to their community, and are of more economic value locked in a cage than free, that is slavery.

The only moral response to slavery is abolition.

Panel 1

25 FOR LIFE

In Tennessee, a person convicted of first-degree murder can be given a death sentence, a life without parole sentence (LWOP) or a life sentence with the possibility of parole/release – which in Tennessee is 51 calendar years.  Effectively this means Tennessee has two life without parole sentences.  Tennessee is the only state where a life sentence with the possibility of release is 51-years.  The national average for life with the possibility of release is 25-years. In Tennessee until the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill was enacted and Tennessee’s version adopted in 1995, individuals with a life sentence with possibility of release would become eligible for parole at 25-years.  

According to 2017 data provided by Tennessee Department of Correction, there are 1,294 individuals in Tennessee prisons serving a 51-year life sentence. Over half 699 (54%) of these individuals were youthful offenders (between the ages of 18-25) or juveniles (below the age of 18) on the date of the offense. Specifically, 115 were below the age of 18, and 584 were between the ages of 18 and 25. 

Additionally, 59.5% (770) of prisoners with a 51-year life sentence are black, and overall 62.4% (807) are non-white. When we consider the juvenile 51-year population only, that percentage increases to 82.6% of juveniles convicted and given a 51-year life sentence are black and 85.2% are non-white. For youthful offenders 72% are black and 75% are non-white.  Only 17% of Tennessee’s population is black.  This disproportionate impact should be shocking to the conscious, but in Tennessee it is called “justice” and is business as usual in the perpetuation of carceral enslavement. 

For juveniles convicted in Shelby County and given a 51-year life sentence, 100% are black.

For juveniles convicted in Davidson County and given a 51-year life sentence, 82.6% are black.

For youthful offenders (18-25 years old) convicted in Shelby County and given a 51-year life sentence, 97.1% and black.

For youthful offenders convicted in Davidson County and given a 51-year life sentence, 71.9% are black. 

For six years, No Exceptions has worked to educate communities and legislators concerning this inhumane draconian 51-year life sentence, and we have supported legislation that would reduce the 51 years back to 25 years for a possibility of parole for everyone with that sentence. no Exceptions does not stand alone in this fight, we stand with families across this state who are demanding that their loved ones have a real chance to return home. Accountability does not require death, it does not require an exile ending in death. justice does not look like making people disappear forever; justice is about healing, transforming, and true accountability. No Exceptions joins the below organizations in the 25forLife campaign, and we invite you to stand with us in this fight. Sign up to receive our emails and learn how you can make a difference and restore families.  

Vengeance is not justice. We need healing. We need transformation.  Our children, fathers, sisters, mothers, brothers and loved ones need a way back home

ORganizations

Unheard Voices Outreach

No EXCEPTIONS

JUST CITY

Sanctuary

CAMpaign for fair sentencing of youth

FREE HEARTS

Choosing Justice Initiative

SONG

Raphah INstitute

TACDL

Panel 2

AMEND 33

Article 1 Section 33 of the Tennessee Constitution reads: “That slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, are forever prohibited in this state.”  We the undersigned individuals and organizations believe that the time is long overdue for the State of Tennessee, and indeed the United States of America, to permanently abolish all forms of slavery with no exceptions.  To that end we call on the Tennessee Legislature, the Governor, and the citizens of Tennessee to amend Article I Section 33 to henceforth read “That slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited in this state.” The only moral response to slavery is abolition, and we refuse to continue to participate in this immoral order which is nothing short of a crime against humanity. In April of 2018 the Tennessee General Assembly passed HJR 226 to remove the criminality exception tothe abolition of slavery in the Tennessee Constitution. The joint resolution must pass a second time during the 2021/2022 legislative session. The final step will require a public vote on the 2022 gubernatorial election ballot. There will be updates on how you can get involved with organizing in your community to guarantee the passage of this amendment.

ORganizations

Children’s Defense Fund

Gideon’s Army

Human Rights Defense Center

Sanctuary

H & S Farm

Just City

Open Table Nashville

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)  

Unheard Voices outreach 

FREE HEARTS

Choosing Justice Initiative

NO EXCEPTIONs

SONG

Human Rights Defense Center

NAACP – Nashville

Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation

Panel 3

Contribute to No Exceptions

Our fight is a communal one. We cannot do this alone; we need your help, both in physical and financial numbers. No Exceptions is a not-for-profit organization, and thus your donations are tax-deductible. We gratefully welcome any contribution, regardless the size. By offering your donations here, you become an integral part in the work of No Exceptions. We need you and thank you.

paypal-donate-button

Panel 4

Contact

Mailing Address:
No Exceptions
701 Gallatin Road S. Suite 206
Madison, TN 37115

Phone:
(615) 997-0698

Email:
Theeda Murphy, Grassroots Coordinator theeda.noexceptions@gmail.com