Ceremonial signing of truth in sentencing bill Thursday

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennesseans who commit certain violent crimes will have to serve their entire sentence once a new law goes in affect July first.

Two of the state’s top Republicans, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton will be in the Bluff City Thursday, for a “ceremonial signing” of the state’s Truth In Sentencing bill.

This bill has strong local support among Shelby County leaders even without the full support of Governor Bill Lee who chose to not sign or veto the bill, making it automatically become law.

Action News 5 spoke with both candidates for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office who have vastly differing opinions.

“Why Memphis? Because violent crime impacts this community,” said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich is a strong advocate of truth in sentencing.

“One of the frustrations of victims and victim’s families is the revolving door of the prison sentence,” said Weirich. “This idea that if someone had been made to serve the sentence they received, maybe my loved one or maybe I wouldn’t have been victimized.”

Starting July 1, crimes like attempted first degree murder, second degree murder, burglary, robbery and more will require 100 percent of the sentence to be served.

“This is just waste of money to make us feel good,” said Democratic Candidate for Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy.

Shelby County Democratic candidate for District Attorney Steve Mulroy agrees with Governor Bill Lee saying this bill will not reduce crime, but instead cost the state millions.

“You could take half the money we’re going to blow on this useless bill and invest it in rehabilitative services for youth, youth intervention programs to keep them out of the system in the first place and then re-entry services on the back end so people who are released from prison have good alternatives,” said Mulroy.

Truth in sentencing does have strong support from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, as well as Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis and Sheriff Floyd Bonner.

On the legislative end, all republicans and five democrats from the Shelby County delegation voted in favor of the bill. A fiscal note from Tennessee General Assembly staff in February estimated the cost of incarceration would leave the state on the hook for more than $40 million. Meanwhile the Tennessee Department of Correction estimates it’ll cost more than double that amount over the next ten years.

As of April, the fiscal note attached to the bill estimates state expenditures to be more than $25 million.

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