Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) says he knows some of Fletcher’s extended family. “That life was taken so tragically and for no excuse why.”
Republicans and Democrats alike shared their sadness and their grief.
“My heart is just aching,” House Minority Leader Rep. Karen Campbell (D-Memphis) said. “I get emotional about it because you really want to do something about it. You want something to be done.”
What that solution is, though, is the tough part.
Both White and Speaker of the House Cameron (R-Crossville) Sexton argued that had the Truth in Sentencing law been in place earlier, at least the murder of Fletcher might not have happened.
Democrats say that’s short-sighted.
“Maybe we need to look at good credits and how these people are getting three, five years off their sentencing and how does that work?” Sexton said. “Why do you need good credits when you’re in prison? Shouldn’t that be an expectation, not a goal?”
“I think that’s kind of an easy way out,” Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) said. “I think we have to go further back because, regardless of when a person is released, if they’re going to commit these types of crimes, they’re going to commit them. So, it would have just been a different victim at a different time.”
One of the things many lawmakers are struggling with is the fact that the violence has been random.
“It’s senseless, there’s no rationale. It’s random, which I think is the scariest part,” Akbari said. “How do you even prevent something like that? How do you protect yourself?”
“It’s painful what the city of Memphis is going through right now because it’s good people,” White said. “But like most of the country, we’re having a crime problem.”
Regardless though, the agony goes beyond just the legislature.
“We have a longtime reporter at another station down in Memphis, when she was reporting this – she’s been there for a long time, too – she broke down and cried,” White said. “That is the feeling of a lot in Memphis, ‘why is this happening?’”
Whatever the solution, the grief lives on.