House Passes Bill To Keep Violent Criminals Behind Bars

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On Thursday, State Representative Stratton Bone, Democratic Leader Gary Odom (D-Nashville), and the Tennessee House of Representatives passed legislation that will keep criminals who commit aggravated robbery with a weapon off the streets for more than double the current minimum sentence.

“Today the Tennessee House of Representatives sent a clear message that criminals who pull a gun on our citizens can expect to be in jail for a whole lot longer,” said Bone. “Aggravated robbery is not a slap-on-the-wrist offense and this legislation makes the punishment better fit the crime.”

Under the new code, criminals who are convicted of armed robbery would be required to serve a minimum of six years of an eight year sentence before being eligible for release. Currently, the minimum sentence is only two-to-five years.

In addition, the new legislation will not cost taxpayers because it is written to require that non-violent felons serve sentences in very extensive community corrections programs, under which they would pay restitution to their victims. By requiring these persons to serve in these programs, the measure would free up cells for the most violent criminals in society.

“Anyone who breaks the law should not get off lightly for their crimes, and this legislation makes sure that doesn’t happen,” said Bone. “Those criminals forced to serve in community corrections programs still have to pay extensive restitution, but their cells can now go to those violent offenders who are a greater threat to the entire community.”

The bill passed the House on an 88-4 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 2813, inspired by a West Nashville citizen held at gunpoint by a criminal who pleaded guilty to earlier armed robbery charges, will more than double the minimum amount of time served for aggravated robbery from 30 to 74 percent.

“The revolving door for hardened criminals was closed today,” said Bone. “What we passed will keep bad guys off the street and do it without costing the taxpayer one cent.”

The legislation, in addition to garnering the bipartisan support of 88 House members, is also endorsed by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee District Attorneys General.
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