NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Rep. Cameron Sexton prepares for his first session as House speaker he says “truth-in-sentencing” will be one of the issues for the Tennessee legislature.
“You know I have been traveling the state and talking to law enforcement, DAs, public defenders, and judges a lot and the one thing that keeps coming back is ‘truth-in-sentencing,’” Sexton said during an interview on Friday. “What you have in the state of Tennessee is that if you get a four-year sentence you only have to do 30, 40, or 50 percent of the time. Federal government–if you get five years you’ll do five years.”
Speaker Sexton suggested starting with crimes such as child abuse.
“Maybe we don’t start and do the whole criminal code at one time, but there are parts of it that we need to implement immediately and really send a strong message that for these crimes especially right now you are going to have to do the time,” he said.
Sexton also addressed the lingering problem of criminal offenders with mental health issues not getting proper treatment in jails and prisons.
“The jails are not the places for them to get their help,” said Speaker Sexton. “We need to really try and figure that out. Law enforcement is looking forward to working with us.”
Both issues likely fit into an overall legislative push for criminal justice reform dealing with sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry for non-violent offenders.