NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Violent criminals may soon be serving 100% of their sentences after the 'Truth in Sentencing' bill passes in both chambers of the legislature.
The bill, sponsored by the leaders of both the House and Senate, adds more than two dozen offenses to an existing list of charges where those convicted have to serve either their entire sentence or up to 85% of it. Before the bill, there was an option for those offenders to get out much earlier with good behavior.
Eight of the total offenses require 100% sentence served. The rest would have the person serve 85% of the sentence.
The controversial idea would mean violent offenders couldn't use prison programs as incentives to get out early. Opponents said on the House floor Thursday this would actually be harmful to a lot of people who could be rehabilitated.
However, sponsor and House Speaker Cameron Sexton said this is about protecting potential victims in the community.
"I want to create hope on the front end and take them out of the pipeline so that they don't even go to prison," said Speaker Sexton. "That's a better society for us. We also shouldn't make law enforcement rearrest the same people 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, [or] 10 times. There has to be a line somewhere, if you cross that line you may be held accountable differently."
Here's a list of the offenses the bill adds to the statute:
100% SENTENCE OFFENSES
- Attempted first-degree murder
- Second-degree murder
- Vehicular homicide resulting from the driver’s intoxication
- Aggravated vehicular homicide
- Especially aggravated kidnapping
- Especially aggravated robbery
- Especially aggravated burglary.
85% SENTENCE OFFENSES
- Aggravated assault, if the offense involved the use of a deadly weapon
- Reckless aggravated assault, if the offense involved the use of a deadly weapon
- Aggravated assault, if the offense involved strangulation or attempted strangulation
- Aggravated assault, if the offense results in serious bodily injury or death of another
- Aggravated assault against a first responder or nurse, if the offense involved the use of a deadly weapon
- Aggravated assault against a first responder or nurse, if the offense involved strangulation or attempted strangulation
- Aggravated assault against a first responder or nurse, if the offense results in serious bodily injury
- Aggravated assault, if the offense results in the death of the first responder or nurse
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Vehicular homicide creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the conduct constitutes the offense of drag racing, or within a posted construction zone, where the person killed, was a Department of Transportation employee or a highway construction worker
- Reckless homicide
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Involuntary labor servitude
- Trafficking persons for forced labor or services
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated burglary
- Aggravated arson
- Possessing a firearm or antique firearm during commission or attempt to commit a dangerous felony
- Manufacture, delivery, or sale of a controlled substance after two or more convictions
- Criminally negligent homicide