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Gibbons Campaign Outlines Priorities for Fighting Crime

Press release from Bill Gibbons, GOP candidate for Tennessee governor, Jan. 20, 2010:

With the Tennessee General Assembly now in session, Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons today released his plan to cut crime in Tennessee by outlining what he hopes to accomplish his first year in office as governor.

“Tennessee ranks third in the nation in violent crime. This is unacceptable. Tennesseans deserve to feel safe in their homes and on their streets, and they should not have to live in fear in their own neighborhoods. Creating safer communities is a top priority for me, which is why I’m ready to lay out specific plans for combating crime in our state my very first year in office,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons has eight steps he plans to take his first year in office as governor:

1. Toughen sentencing laws for violent gun crime

Under Tennessee law, someone can be convicted of robbery with a gun and only serve a small portion of his sentence before being paroled. This system is creating a revolving door of criminal activity, with repeat offenders viewing the punishment simply as “the price of doing business.” “Specifically, I will propose abolishing parole for robbery with a gun, enhancing sentences for gang-related violent crimes (defined as violent crimes committed by three or more), and expanding of the current crooks with guns law to provide enhanced sentences for additional types of crimes committed with guns not currently covered,” he said.

2. Toughen sentences for burglars

“In Tennessee, someone can be convicted of burglary and basically get a slap on the wrist – diversion if it’s his first offense, probation if it’s his second offense, and less than a year in jail if it’s the third offense. I will propose an end to diversion for conviction of burglary and an end to the current presumption that a defendant is entitled to probation and tie the availability of probation more to a willingness to undergo effective drug treatment for those with drug addiction problems.”

3. Increase funding for drug treatment courts

“Crime is closely tied to drugs. I support reaching out to non-violent drug offenders and getting them the help they need to combat their drug addictions. More of our state dollars spent on drug treatment should be earmarked for effective drug treatment court programs.”

4. Attack juvenile crime by combating truancy

Far too often, skipping school leads to juvenile crime. As Shelby County District Attorney General, Gibbons has held parents accountable for their kids’ truancy and has worked to implement what is becoming a model program to match truants with volunteer mentors. “As governor, I want to expand this effort and tap into the volunteer spirit of the Volunteer State by recruiting thousands of citizens to serve as mentors for kids who are skipping school,”

5. Enact Stronger laws on methamphetamine

“Our meth home-cookers and their pill shoppers have learned to avoid purchasing certain amounts of a primary meth ingredient at any one time. I want to strengthen state law so that having more than nine grams of such a product becomes a presumption of intent to manufacture meth for purposes of prosecution. I also want to enact legislation to make it a felony to endanger a child through the manufacture of meth. Tennessee has no law addressing this problem, yet we know through recent reports that home-cookers often do so in the presence of a child.”

6. Restore professionalism to the Tennessee Highway Patrol

“Our Highway Patrol should not be a political football. The citizens and our state troopers deserve better. As governor, I will recruit a true professional to lead our Highway Patrol, someone who will give it the status it deserves as our state’s top law enforcement agency. The Highway Patrol already has a role in the interdiction of drugs, but we need to make better use of this agency and give it a more prominent role on the front line of the fight against drugs. Interstate 40 must be a top priority, as it is one of the leading drug trafficking corridors in the United States.”

7. Toughen sentencing for repeat domestic violence offenders

“Under our current state law, unless a deadly weapon is used, no matter how many times an offender commits a domestically-related assault, it’s a misdemeanor. We must change that to make repeat offenses a felony. This change is badly needed in order to break the cycle of domestic violence we see far too often.”

8. Provide Additional prosecutors

“Many D.A.’s offices across the state are handling huge caseloads with limited personnel. It is not unusual for state prosecutors to face a thousand new cases each year. We must give D.A.’s offices across the state the help they need so that cases can in turn, be given the attention they deserve.”

Bill Gibbons, a Republican, is the Shelby County District Attorney General, serving as the top state law enforcement official in Tennessee’s largest jurisdiction. He entered the governor’s race on January 4, 2009. For more information on Bill Gibbons, visit his campaign website at www.Gibbons2010.com.