We informed you in an earlier post about Governor Haslam's new public safety initiative. We briefly mentioned the provisions in the legislation about the new consequences for domestic violence offenders in Tennessee. Just recently, Bill Gibbons, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, spoke out about the domestic violence legislation.
The "Repeat Domestic Violence Offender" bill increases the penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders. Specifically, a second offender would receive at least 45 days in jail and a fine ranging from $350-$3,500. A third offense and any subsequent offense would warrant at least 120 days in jail and a fine ranging from $1,100 - $5,000. The main purpose of the legislation is to address the increasing problem with domestic violence in Tennessee. In a recent study, it was discovered that Tennessee was ranked fifth in the nation for women murdered by men as a result of domestic violence. Gibbons hopes the legislation would deter further domestic violence incidents.
When asked about the legislation, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond voiced some concern over the cost of housing all the offenders as a result of the mandatory jail time. He also stated that the definition of domestic violence would need to be clarified in order for officers to be able to better determine when a domestic assault has actually occurred. In some instances, such as when there is no physical harm to the woman, it may be hard for officers to determine if a domestic assault occurred.
You can expect the legislation to be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming term. We'll keep you posted on its progress.