State Senator Brian Kelsey has picked a good issue to work on when the legislature convenes in January.
In Memphis, we have a big problem with crime, and anything they can do to curb it is welcome.
The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. In the 2016 legislative session, I will be pushing for reforms of our criminal laws to better protect Tennesseans from crime.
One reform I announced last week is legislation to increase the time that carjackers spend behind bars. Tennesseans should not have to worry about being held at gunpoint while driving in our communities. A red light is meant to keep you safe from other drivers, not put you in danger of being carjacked. However, under current law, a person convicted of carjacking can serve as little as 30% of his sentence before being released on parole. This is a travesty.
According to current statistics from the Tennessee Department of Correction, the typical carjacker serves only 52% of a sentence before being released, an amount which is less than five years behind bars. That number is particularly galling when you take into account that most carjackers re-offend within three years of being released. That’s why I am proposing to increase the amount of time that carjackers spend in prison to a minimum of 85% of the sentence.
There have been at least seven reported carjackings in the last month in Memphis, and police are still looking for suspects in six of the cases. We should not and cannot stand by as such crimes are perpetrated on our community.
The goals of criminal justice reform are to keep our community safe by locking up violent criminals and to save taxpayer dollars by not crowding our jails with nonviolent offenders. I hope we can accomplish both in 2016.
I hope so, too.