TN Prosecutors Push For Tougher Child Sex Crimes Laws

(Memphis) A child in Shelby County has a one in ten chance of being sexually abused, and that’s an improvement from a decade ago.

District attorneys across Tennessee are banding together to push for stronger laws to fight child sex crimes and protect children.

The Tennessee legislative session starts next Tuesday and lawmakers will consider bills that make changes to protect children.

One of the laws will up the minimum time a prisoner has to serve in jail before they’re eligible for parole.

If approved the bill would make someone guilty of child neglect serve 85 percent of their sentence before coming up for parole.

Currently, most rapists only serve 30 percent before the possibility of parole.

“They’re the kids. They’re our most vulnerable and valuable resource,” said Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

Weirich said she hopes the state also changes the law to let them try serial child rapists in one trial compounding all of their charges even if some of the crimes happened in other counties.

This would save taxpayers money.

“There’s a cost benefit. There’s a benefit to our already strapped and overworked and understaffed offices. It’s a resource benefit,” said Weirich.

One trial, as opposed to several across the state, would also keep the victims from having to testify over and over again.

State Representative Mark White represents parts of East Memphis and wants to learn more about the options before making a decision, but says something needs to be done.

“We can’t delay. Protection of our children is the number one priority that adults have. Not only in this community but around the state,” said White.

The bills made it through committee last year, was never approved and signed into law.

Advocates hope that changes this year.

Prosecutors are also pushing for other bills that allow them to show pictures of a murder victim alive at the trials, and allow search warrants to be requested and issued electronically.

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