TN Plan: Toughen Domestic Violence Penalty, Help Inmate Re-Entry


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a public safety plan that includes mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders and tougher penalties for gun-related gang crime, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence for a second time would face mandatory jail time of at least 45 days, and at least 120 days for third and subsequent offenses.

State Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said current law presumes probation for domestic offenders unless prosecutors prove that jail time is warranted. “In Shelby County, about 30 percent of domestic violence involves repeat offenders. It’s an important message for judges to be able to tell offenders that if they do it again they will go to jail,” said Gibbons, former prosecutor in Memphis. The plan also would create a pilot “one-stop shop” in Memphis of services for paroled inmates returning to Shelby County. If successful, it would be expanded elsewhere. “The idea is to place under one roof everything from help with job skills to GED preparation to medical assistance, on a case-by-case basis,” Gibbons said. “It’s aimed at reducing the recidivism rate, which in Tennessee is over 40 percent,” meaning more than 40 percent of released inmates are convicted on new charges and sentenced to prison within three years. Haslam said he will include the plan’s $6 million price tag in the budget he will present to lawmakers this month. Most of the total is for increased incarceration costs.

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