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Odom’s ‘Smart On Crime’ Bill Passes In House

Press Release from Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville; April 8, 2010:

House Passes Bill That More Than Doubles Penalty For Armed Robbery

(Nashville) — Democratic Leader Gary Odom passed a long-overdue measure through the Tennessee House of Representatives Thursday that will more than double the minimum time served for armed robbery.

“This is a big step we made today in making Tennessee a safer place to live,” said Odom (D-Nashville). “We hear from Tennesseans that it is time to get tough on crime. This bill gets tough on crime and it gets smart on crime, with no additional cost to the taxpayer.”

The bill doesn’t cost taxpayers because it is written to require that certain non-violent property offenders 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 passed the House on an 88-4 vote and will now head to the state Senate for consideration.

The bill, inspired by a West Nashville constituent held at gunpoint by a criminal who pleaded guilty to earlier armed robbery charges, will increase the minimum amount of time served from 30 to 74 percent.

“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.

Metro Nashville Chief of Police Ronal Serpas, a vocal proponent who was on the House floor to witness the vote, praised the bill as being “smart on crime.”

The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, is endorsed by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee District Attorneys General.

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