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Sen. Jackson Wants Tougher Penalties for Crimes Against Women, Kids

Press Release from Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, 23 Feb. 2010:

Bill would make murderers of pregnant women eligible for death penalty

NASHVILLE – Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) will present two bills in a Senate committee Tuesday afternoon that enforce harsher penalties for crimes committed against pregnant women and young children.

“We have a duty to protect those who are vulnerable, and pregnant women and children are the ultimate examples,” Jackson said. “Criminals who commit heinous acts against these groups deserve punishments that fit the crimes.”

Under Senate Bill 2392, a killer convicted of first-degree murder for knowingly killing a pregnant woman automatically would become eligible for the death penalty or life without parole. The bill will give a jury the opportunity to impose an appropriate punishment against a murderer of a pregnant woman, thereby assuring justice for society and the victim’s family.

“A premeditated murder against a pregnant woman is repugnant to society,” Jackson said. “The tragic loss of a mother-to-be is particularly shocking and harmful to a family. The family loses much more than a wife and a mother.”

Senate Bill 2388 requires convicted child rapists who complete their prison sentences to be supervised by an officer of the state of Tennessee for the rest of their lives.

During his time in the legislature, Sen. Jackson has sponsored bills that made the sex offender registry public and accessible via the Internet, as well as the legislation that required state lifetime supervision of sex offenders. Child rapists would be added to that list under SB2388.

“I have led the charge against sex offenders in Tennessee,” Jackson said. “Child rapists should serve long sentences without parole, and once they have completed every day of their sentences, they should never be released back into our communities without active supervision by a state officer.”

Both bills are scheduled to be discussed during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday in LP12.

Senator Doug Jackson represents Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Humphreys, Lawrence, and Lewis Counties. Contact him at sen.doug.jackson@capitol.tn.gov or (615) 741-4499 or 302 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0025.

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Rep. Maggart and Sen. Black Want Violent Juveniles on Sex Offender Registry

Press Release from State Representative Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) and Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin), Dec. 7, 2009:

NASHVILLE – Rep. Maggart and Sen. Black will push for passage of legislation in January to place violent juvenile offenders on Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry as required under the federal Adam Walsh Act. The legislators introduced legislation today to place offenders between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age on the Registry.

“We are trying to protect children who are victims of this crime,” said Rep. Maggart. “The safety of children overrides concerns regarding information being available about the juvenile who must register as a result of being convicted of this violent crime. We are talking about rape, aggravated rape, aggravated sexual battery, rape of a child and aggravated rape of a child. These are serious adult crimes committed by a juvenile that most commonly occur with very young victims who must be protected.”

The adoption of this legislation would put Tennessee into compliance with the requirements for juveniles to be placed on state’s Sex Offender Registries under the Adam Walsh Act which was scheduled to go into effect in 2009. Tennessee was awarded over $50 million in Byrne Grant funding last year, 10 percent of which could be in jeopardy unless the state adheres to these requirements.

However, in June U.S. Attorney General Anthony Holder signed a one year agreement to extend the deadline for states to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Only Ohio has complied with the law thus far.

“Tennessee has made very good progress at protecting children against child sexual predators, but we have still have a hurdle to overcome by placing these violent juvenile offenders age 14 and older on the Registry,” said Black.

“Although the risk of repeating the crime is not quite as high as adult sex offenders, it still presents enough of a threat to require placing these offenders on the Registry,” she continued. “We would like to believe that juveniles could not commit these types of horrible crimes. However, the fact remains that they do and children must be protected.”

“When there is this threat to the community, parents should have the right to know that the perpetrator has this history of sexual violence against children,” added Maggart. “Whether or not the perpetrator is 17 or 24 years old, child sexual offenders can be dangerous to children in the community and should be placed on the Registry as required by the Walsh Act. Hopefully, we will pass this legislation in the 2010 legislative session.”