“We’re hopeful that we can get it passed,” Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said. “I do know that’s an important issue for residents, I know it’s an important one for their elected officials.”
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Sexton has been a champion of juvenile crime reform. This special session, he proposed a bill where if teenagers between 14 and 18 commit any of a number of violent crimes, or murder if they’re younger than 16, “the child must be transferred and tried as an adult in criminal court if the juvenile court finds probable cause to believe that: the child committed the delinquent act as alleged; and the child is not committable to an institution for the developmentally disabled or mentally ill.”
This is what some call an ‘automatic transfer’ concept.
“I think even General Mulroy [sic] is okay with the blended sentencing aspect,” Sexton said. “So, it should be a bipartisan bill.”
Sexton is referring to Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy – and he’s partially accurate. Mulroy is indeed on board for the blended sentencing.
“I support the concept of blended sentencing,” Mulroy said. “I’ve advocated for it.”
But to insinuate the District Attorney supports the bill is a little murkier. “I do not support automatic transfer,” he said.
Instead, Mulroy said the blended sentencing version he’d like to see would instead see juvenile offenders stay in the juvenile system until they’re 24, as opposed to the automatic transfer.
“We don’t want to ship them off to adult prison because then they’re more likely to re-offend when they come out. Like I said, they’re sending them off to crime college,” he said. “But at the same time, we don’t want to just let them go at age 19. We can keep the person in the juvenile court system where there’s a broader array of rehabilitative services available.”
Though Memphis has the focus, it’s not just Shelby County that would be affected. You’d see it in the Tri-Cities, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, Jackson, Memphis and every city and town in between.