Press Release from Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville, March 24, 2010:
Odom bill costs taxpayers nothing, ups sentences for armed robbers
(Nashville) — A bill increasing sentences for armed robbers, sponsored by House Democratic Leader Gary Odom, passed a major hurdle in the state House Wednesday by clearing the Budget subcommittee.
“In the past, the cost has kept us from getting tougher on violent crimes,” said Odom (D-Nashville). “Getting this measure through the Budget subcommittee, where most bills die because of costs, is a clear sign that this bill is on its way to the full House and to the governor’s desk to become law.
“A lot of armed robbers have been serving only a small percentage of their sentences, because of the tight budget. We have found a way to keep these people in jail longer by changing our sentencing priorities.”
Odom plans to move the bill through the House Finance Committee and to a full vote in the next two weeks.
The bill, inspired by a West Nashville constituent 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 75 percent.
“A constituent came to me and said a guy pointed a gun at him and robbed him in broad daylight in his yard. This criminal should have still been in jail,’” Odom said.
The bill doesn’t 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. These community-correction sentences would include offenses involving limited amounts of fraud and forgery and other non-violent property offenses.
The violent offender in the West Nashville case, under this legislation, would have served six of the eight years sentenced instead of only 2.4 years, Odom said. The bill has been endorsed by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.