Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Sexton Signs Truth In Sentencing Bill Honoring Victims and Victim Families

Upper Cumberland legislators and law enforcement discussed the potential impacts of the state’s new truth in sentencing act.

Monday’s ceremonial bill signing by House Speaker Cameron Sexton in Crossville focused on specifics of the bill which goes into effect Friday. State Representative Ryan Williams shared a recent example of how the law will benefit the community.

“If this bill would have been in place two months ago, it would have saved the life of an unborn child in my community,” Williams said. “Someone was out on bail on their third DUI, was impaired again driving, hit a car and took the life of an unborn child.”

Sexton said this bill will better protect victims of those crimes. Sexton specifically addressed the current soft sentencing of DUI vehicular homicides and aggravated assaults. Sexton said it was time to draw a line between violent and non-violent crimes.

“There are a lot of crimes that have been committed from people that were arrested previously that got back out,” Sexton said. “Not by fault by anybody in the judicial system, just because the sentencing code in our state was soft. Some people will look at this bill and say in Cumberland County I will probably never get car jacked, but in this bill, you could have someone in your family who dies because someone was drunk driving and that is 100 percent sentencing. We’ve had those cases, and those cases, those people have been busted for DUI multiple times and then, you also have a lot of aggravated assaults where they get out in less than a year.”

The legislation builds upon previous legislation requiring violent criminals to serve 100 percent of sentences for 31 different crimes. A total of 39 crimes will now require 100 percent of sentencing.

“The government’s job is to protect the community and public safety,” Sexton said. “That’s first and foremost. If you don’t feel comfortable walking out on the street, driving your car, being in your house then the government has failed you and the community. This will make our communities safer. This will make our residents safer. This will allow us to have less victims and less crime while at the same time supporting our law enforcement.”

The bill includes attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, vehicular homicide resulting from intoxication, aggravated vehicular homicide, especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, carjacking and especially aggravated burglary.

It also allows lower-level violent criminals to earn programming credits through treatment or job training that may reduce their sentence from 100 to 85 percent for certain crimes.

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