Tennessee prosecutors and police officials says tougher sentences are needed to reduce crime. Their Public Safety Coalition told the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board they are pushing legislation this year to eliminate parole for aggravated battery and to strengthen the existing DUI laws. Despite budget concerns, the group wants staff additions for district attorney offices across Tennessee and new rules to curb the growing number of copper and precious metal thefts. Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox said many recommendations are focused on repeat violent offenders, who he said have helped push Tennessee's violent crime rate to the second highest among the states in 2005 and 2006. “Those that involve gun crimes, those that involve group crimes are of course aimed at those who are the most dangerous,” he said.
Memphis District Attorney Bill Gibbons, whose metro area saw 1,262.7 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2006, said the coalition consistently promotes legislation to deter crime. He said the group's proposals often are deferred because of their estimated cost for extra jails, staff, and other expenses. Coalition members think tougher punishments, such as eliminating parole, will reduce crime because criminals will spend more time in prison and may be deterred by harsher sentences. The coalition cited New York's drop in violent crime after the state enacted laws eliminating parole for second-time violent offenders and later, all violent offenders.