‘Smart On Crime’ Bill Clears House Finance Committee

Press Release from House Democratic Leader Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville; March 30, 2010:

Armed Robbery Penalty More Than Doubled

(Nashville) — House Democratic Leader Gary Odom passed a long-overdue measure through the House Finance Committee Tuesday that will more than double the minimum time served for armed robbers.

“The unanimous vote today by the House Finance Committee ensures that this bill will be funded without additional cost to taxpayers,” said Odom (D-Nashville).

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.

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.

“A constituent came to me and said: ‘Gary this guy pointed a gun at me and robbed me in broad daylight in my yard. I was angry when I learned that he had done it before and should have still been in jail,’” Odom said.

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 chiefs of police in the four major Tennessee cities, in all three grand divisions. Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas says the bill will increase public safety and that it is “smart on crime.”

Odom plans to have the bill on the floor of the House by next week. The bill also moved forward in the Senate Tuesday afternoon, unanimously passing the Judiciary Committee.