New law to affect prison sentences for repeat offenders in TN

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The New Year is going to bring new guidelines for repeat offenders in Tennessee state prisons.

Senator Brian Kelsey said there’s been no truth in prison sentences.

“You only had to serve 30 percent of your sentence if you were a repeat home burglar, that was absurd," said Sen. Kelsey.

He and Senator Mark Norris sponsored a new law that changes that for repeat offenders of aggravated burglary and drug trafficking. They’ll now have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence after their third conviction.

“The number one goal of government is to keep people safe in their homes and we were treating this lightly prior to this.”

The new law also changes some of the ways of community supervision, so if someone violates their parole or probation, that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to end up back in prison.

"Now we're going to give stricter penalties that are much clearer and much quicker and those will hopefully deter those violations of parole and probation."

It's expected to save the state $80 million.

The Shelby County Corrections Center Director said it could have a negative impact on the operating budget if some inmates are held longer for their crimes, noting the majority of Shelby County prison inmates are there for drug offenses and property crimes.

The new law also affects domestic violence offenders. It’ll be a felony the third time someone’s convicted and officers can seek orders of protection on behalf of victims.

“We have a huge problem here in Shelby County and in Tennessee where we're really just plagued with this abuse and we had to do something about it.”

Senator Kelsey said it’ll take about a year to get offenders processed through the system with these new regulations.

For more details about the Public Safety Act of 2016, go here.

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