Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tennessee has short prison sentences

Only three states have shorter sentences

Tennessee’s prisoners have had some of the shortest stays in prison over the past two decades when compared with other states, according to a recent report by the Pew Center on the States.

The report, which measured average length of stay for people sent to prison in 35 states, found that Tennessee had the fourth-lowest average prison stays in the nation in 2009, behind only South Dakota, Illinois and Kentucky, according to the National District Attorneys Association website.

Prison sentences are affected by the complicated interplay between legislators, who write the penalties and what the minimum percentage of time is that a prisoner has to serve before being eligible for parole; judges, who have discretion in sentencing offenders to prison; and the state’s parole officials, who determine whether an offender can leave prison early, reported the Tennessean.

‘The fact that we’re one of the lowest in the country doesn’t surprise me,’ Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson told the Tennessean. ‘The legislature has put into effect a lot of different alternative punishments and presumptions regarding people who should get probation — things that many states have been slow to adopt. Definitely one of the goals of that was to not only reduce but to better control prison populations.’

State officials point out that while offenders spend less time in prison today than 20 years ago for property and drug crimes, there was a 41 percent increase in prison time for violent crimes.

To read more: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120907/NEWS03/309070064/TN-prisoners-serve-less-time-than-those-most-states

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