Contact: Chuck Grimes

June 3, 2010

Phone: (615) 741-1967

(NASHVILLE, TN), June 3, 2010 — The State Senate approved major anti-crime legislation today to strengthen penalties against armed robbers. The bi-partisan legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Doug Henry (D-Nashville), Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Diane Black (R-Gallatin) would more than double the minimum amount of time served for aggravated robbery.

“This bill continues our ‘Crooks with Guns’ legislative efforts to crack down on violent crime,” said Leader Norris. “The bill focuses our resources on keeping violent criminals behind bars longer to protect the public.”

Presently, armed robbers convicted on a first offense can receive up to eight years in jail, but the 30 percent requirement places the actual sentence at less than three years. This legislation would increase the percentage of jail time for these armed offenders from 30 percent to 70 percent. To ensure there is prison space, the bill would sentence non-violent property thieves to community corrections, with more intensive supervision, instead of jail time.

“The safety of our citizens should be a priority of state government,” added Norris. “These are not petty criminals. These are hardened criminals who use a firearm in the commission of a crime. This bill aims to make our communities safer by keeping these violent offenders off the street where they are no longer a danger to the public. I am very pleased this bill has been approved.”

Norris sponsored the original “Crooks with Guns” legislation that made it an additional offense to possess a firearm when committing any of a list of dangerous felonies like aggravated and especially aggravated kidnapping, burglary, stalking, carjacking, voluntary manslaughter, and certain drug crimes.

Last year, the legislature passed the second phase sponsored by Norris by adding a minimum of three years to the sentence of a violator who possesses a firearm during the commission of attempted first-degree murder, to be served after the underlying offense. Another “Crooks with Guns” law sponsored by Norris and passed last year requires all aggravated burglaries that a defendant commits within a 24-hour period to be counted as separate prior convictions for purposes of determining whether the defendant is a multiple, persistent, or career offender under the Criminal Sentencing Reform Act.

This year’s legislation, Senate Bill 3431, now goes to the governor for his signature. The bill is set to take effect on July 1.

Senator Norris serves as Majority Leader in the Tennessee Senate and represents District 32, which includes Dyer, Lauderdale, Tipton, and Shelby Counties.

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