House votes to raise minimum prison time for armed robbers

Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 11:50am

As Tennessee's police chiefs watched from the gallery in a show of support, the state House voted Thursday to raise the minimum prison time for armed robbers from 2 years to nearly 6 years.

The bill by House Minority Leader Gary Odom, D-Nashville, would force armed robbers to serve at least 74 percent of the minimum 8-year sentence. Under current law, they must serve only 30 percent of that sentence. The vote was 88-4. The bill awaits action in the Senate.

"In the words of my police chief, Ronal Serpas, who is with us today, 'This is a good bill that is smart on crime.' Under this legislation, we will be using our existing jail cells to house the most dangerous convicted criminals," Odom told the House.

The measure would pay for itself by removing mandatory prison time for first-time offenders who commit one of 19 nonviolent felonies, including passing forged checks or shoplifting merchandise worth less than $1,000. Odom's legislation stalled Monday when Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, objected to changing the sentences for the nonviolent crimes and tried to remove several of them from the list.

Odom accused Hill of political grandstanding. Hill defended himself Thursday before withdrawing his amendment.

"We can yell. We can scream. We can get red in the face. But at the end of the day we all represent the people of the great state of Tennessee," Hill said.

8 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 10:19

it needs to be ALL violent offenders!

By: PromosFriend on 4/8/10 at 10:57

This is a good piece of legislation. I also liked the specification that the option for non-jail time for non-violent offenders only applies to those convicted for their first offense. I think an improvement would be to specify that subsequent offenses, regardless of nature, would include an increasing minimum-time-to-serve provisioin.

By: TITAN1 on 4/8/10 at 11:07

Blanketnazi2, I hear you but at least its a start.

By: AmyLiorate on 4/8/10 at 11:26

Promos that's a good idea, increasing minimum time.

Of course the third offense should send them to jail for life.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 11:28

Amy, TN is a Three Strikes State. that applies to specific felony offenses.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 11:28

and whether or not the judge chooses to enforce it.

By: localboy on 4/9/10 at 8:53

Don't they have minimum sentences in place for selected offenses now? Aren't they still being released?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/9/10 at 9:18

local, the minimum sentences means that if they get a 4 year sentence for a felony, they end up only serving 20% of it behind bars and the rest on probation. four years does not mean four years. so, if they got 10 years, they could do less than 2 if they had jail credit.