A bill more than doubling prison time for armed-robbery convicts won approval yesterday in the Tennessee House, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The bill would require people convicted of aggravated robbery, commonly known as armed robbery, to serve at least five years and 11 months in prison before they are eligible for parole or release — up from two years and five months under current law.
The Senate Finance Committee will review the bill Tuesday. A tenuous balancing act on financing the longer prison terms gives it a better shot at passage than similar bills in recent years. To avoid increased costs in an era of budget-slashing, the bill requires first-time convicts of 19 nonviolent property crimes to serve their sentences in community correction programs rather than in state prisons, unless a judge finds a compelling reason to send them to prison. Examples include forgery, felony theft of services, shoplifting, felony fraudulent use of a credit card, felony theft of property, and felony vandalism — all if the amount involved or damaged is less than $1,000.