Repeat offenders need tougher laws, Chief Serpas says - WKRN News 2

Repeat offenders need tougher laws, Chief Serpas says

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Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas is calling on legislators to make the laws against repeat offenders tougher.

Earlier this month, police arrested Thomas Bailey Norman.

He is suspected in more than 100 burglaries in the west Nashville area in just the five months since he was released from prison.

Chief Serpas wants to stop criminals, like Norman, that continue to break the law.

In just the month of October, several ex-convicts have been arrested for new crimes.

Chief Serpas said that wouldn't happen, if the laws were tougher.

"We're giving chances to people who don't earn them and don't deserve them," he said.  "Today's offenders are terribly violent and they are repeat offenders who have been in and out of the same prison system [and] who do not want to be rehabilitated."

Statistics show that 50% of felony parolees will return to prison within three years of being released unless they serve their full term.  The rate then drops to 24%.

Chief Serpas said lawmakers need to force prisoners to serve 100% of their terms, and the people need to back them.

"If people can lobby the legislature to sell wine in grocery stores, can't we lobby legislatures to keep prisoners in prison?" he asked.

They main reason legislators are against tougher prison terms is because of the increased costs, why Chief Serpas, District Attorney General Torry Johnson and other members of the Public Safety Coalition have been trying to spread the message to lawmakers that the fiscal cost is not the only concern.

"You think of the people who have their houses broken into, or who are robbed, who are injured, spent time in hospital, who are killed, there are tremendous societal costs that we think come to bear here," said Johnson.  "...It's not just, ‘How much does it cost to keep [them] in the penitentiary?'"

Johnson and Serpas agree that the Crooks with Guns bill has helped, but it still needs to go further.

They hope laws will target armed robbers first.

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