In tough economic times, our state government has to focus on those essential functions such as ensuring that our communities provide a safe place to live, work, and raise children. Recognizing that safeguarding and strengthening Tennessee’s financial status is essential, Jeff will work hard to ensure that we are doing what we must to keep our neighborhoods safe. A few of Jeff’s ideas about improving public safety are below:
Tougher, Smarter Sentencing: Too many of our citizens are being victimized by repeat offenders who are not completing the prison sentences they have received for criminal convictions. 50% of felon inmates released on parole are returned to prison within three years, which is two times the recidivism rate for those who serve their full sentences. As Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas has noted, “By not spending the money to keep violent criminals and repeat offenders behind bars longer, the state is simply choosing to shift the known cost of these violent offenders to our communities and neighborhoods through new victims and loss of life and innocence.” In the Senate, Jeff will work to ensure that our law enforcement strategy is driven more by what’s good for Tennessee and less by the costs of incarceration.
Policing the Parentless Neighborhood of the Internet: New technologies have left our children more vulnerable than ever to sexual predators and strangers. Too often, parents cannot keep up with who their children are meeting online. Adults who pose as children on the web to prey on children should be sent to jail, and our police forces must be prepared to police this virtual space and to insert a responsible adult presence in the often parentless Internet. We also must teach our children how to be safe online just as we teach them how to be safe crossing the street.
Effective Preventions and Interventions for Juvenile Offenders: Despite the vast state and local resources focused on our children, too many of them are slipping through the cracks. Usually by the time a juvenile has committed a crime, there have been a number of red flags that should have alerted teachers or child services workers. And sadly, our juvenile system could do a better job at turning juvenile offenders around. More effective coordination between government agencies will allow us to intervene with at-risk children before they commit a crime and to put juveniles who enter the juvenile justice system on a pathway towards responsibility.
Creating a 40-Hour Work Week for Prisoners: Prisoners in Tennessee should be required to work, get an education, and learn the skills they need to be productive and responsible when they get out. Too much of prisoners’ time today is spent in idleness. The General Assembly should work with non-governmental partners to create a pilot program to impose a 40-hour work week for prisoners that promotes responsibility, education, and work to ensure a productive re-entry into society.