Strickland endorses bill requiring felons to serve 100% of sentence

Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 3:18 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced his support for a new proposal to require convicted felons to serve 100% of their jail sentence.

Tennessee House Republicans, led by Speaker Cameron Sexton, introduced HB 2656 this month.

It would require adults convicted of any one of 14 felonies to serve 100% of their sentence.

Those felonies include aggravated assault, vehicular homicide, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, aggravated robbery, carjacking and several other offenses.

At a hearing this week, supporters explained why they believe the proposal is necessary.

“It’s embarrassing how quick how many of these folks are released from a sentence they were ordered to serve by an elected judge in many cases after having been convicted by a jury of their peers and communities,” said State Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland.

In his weekly update on Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced his support of the bill.

“While I am a firm believer in second chances and helping those individuals who want to turn their lives around (and that there should be an alternative to prison for non-violent offenders), I also believe that there should be significant consequences for those committing violent crimes in our community,” Strickland said.

Strickland has long called for ‘truth-in-sentencing’ laws to stop what he describes as “a revolving door” of criminals leaving jail only to return.

But opponents of HB 2656, like Andrew Brashier with the criminal justice reform group Prison Fellowship, say not allowing inmates to earn early release for good behavior or for successfully completing rehabilitation or vocational classes does more harm.

“After all, 95% of prisoners are going to return someday to our communities, even if we require 100% of their sentences to be served,” said Brashier. “Therefore, we should incentivize accountability and improvement through programming to increase the likelihood of successful reentry.”

If approved, the legislation would take effect on July 1, 2022.

Lawmakers on the House Criminal Justice Committee will discuss the bill again on Wednesday.

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