NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new law requiring some violent offenders in Tennessee to serve 100% of their prison sentence goes into effect later this summer.
It’s called the “Truth in Sentencing” bill, which means those convicted of violent crimes like murder, carjackings and vehicular homicide must serve their full sentence without the possibility of parole or early release.
Those convicted of lesser crimes, like aggravated assault, will be required to serve at least 85%.
“Tennesseans want us to be tough on crime. They want people who commit violent crimes to serve the sentence. The worst thing you can do is tell a family they’re going to get 10 years and you see them on the street in three years or less which is happening right now,” said Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton.
The bill has already passed both the house and senate and was emphatically sponsored by Tennessee Speaker Sexton who says it will make the state a safer place.
“Common sense tells you if the guys are locked up longer, there’s less crime. I don’t need a million dollar study to tell me that the longer they serve, the less crime there will be. And they argue about the cost to taxpayers, but what’s the cost to that family? What’s the cost to society for crimes that keep happening and those loved ones that keep losing loved ones? What’s the value of their life,” Speaker Sexton said.
But opponents of the bill argue that it will take away incentives for good behavior and could lead to larger prison populations and higher rates of recidivism.
Democratic Caucus Chair Vincent Dixie sent News 2 the following statement on Tuesday:
“There is no evidence that these types of bills work. In fact, the real truth is that it won’t serve as a deterrent, on the contrary, it will increase the state’s already high recidivism rate by reducing reform incentives, increase the overall prison population by incarcerating inmates longer, and will tax Tennesseans around $100 million dollars a year. Also, this will increase the financial burden on families of incarcerated individuals. Families will have to pay more to stay in communication and take care of the basic needs of their loved ones. In essence, this bill increases the living tax on the most vulnerable families in Tennessee. All just to increase corporate profits.”
Speaker Sexton plans to hold a ceremonial signing of the bill soon. Governor Bill Lee has not added his signature to the bill and his office says he doesn’t plan to. The law will still go into effect since it passed in both the house and senate.