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Notes from Nashville – 4.15.10

Notes from Nashville – 4.15.10

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 2:17 pm
By: Mark Maddox, State Representative

I want to tell you about three bills dealing with public safety that recently passed. One bill creates a crime to knowingly harbor a runaway child.
A second bill deals with the time for notifying the FBI about known sex offenders and the third puts armed robbers in jail longer.
HB3376 creates a Class A misdemeanor for anyone who harbors a runaway and fails to notify the parents or law enforcement authorities of the whereabouts of the child, conceals the whereabouts of the child, or aids the child in escaping from parental custody or law enforcement.
It is designed to encourage folks who may know of or have contact with a runaway child to contact the family or the authorities.
There are safeguards for people who believe the child is in danger with the parents. Most people want to do the right thing; but there are those with improper motives and this legislation should make them think twice.
HB3370 is a measure that requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to report current sexual offender registration and tracking information to the Federal Bureau within 48 hours of receiving such information.
The law previously required the TBI to relay that information “promptly.” Sexual predators can strike at any moment, so it is critical that our state and federal law enforcement departments share current information on known sexual predators swiftly.
By requiring a specified time, the chances of losing information is greatly reduced.
HB2813 will more than double the minimum amount of time served for aggravated robbery.
The message should be clear to criminals, “If you pull a gun on our citizens, you can expect to be in jail for a lot longer.”
Aggravated robbery is not a slap-on-the-wrist offense and this legislation makes the punishment better fit the crime.
Under this new code, criminals convicted of armed robbery would be required to serve a minimum six years of an eight year sentence before being eligible for release which is longer than the current two-to-five years.
The new legislation will not cost taxpayers extra because it also requires non-violent felons to serve sentences in extensive community corrections programs, under which they pay restitution to their victims. By requiring persons convicted of non-violent crimes to serve in these programs, this bill frees up cells for violent criminals.
I had a problem moving some of the felonies to community correction and voted for an amendment to move four crimes back under the jail time statute.
I thought that persons committing crimes like forgery and burning someone’s property ought to get jail time, but the amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor before a final vote was taken.
That made sense because community corrections programs are rehabilitating offenders and victims are receiving more restitution under it.
Further, we need those cells for more violent offenders. Anyone who breaks the law should not get off lightly for their crimes, and this legislation makes sure that doesn’t happen.
Those criminals forced to serve in community corrections programs still have to pay extensive restitution, but their cells can now go to those violent offenders who are a greater threat to the entire community.
I remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our communities. These bills help keep our citizens safer without costing the taxpayer more money.
WCP 4.15.10

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