A suggestion for reducing recidivism in local jails

Published 8:36 am Monday, December 9, 2019

To the Editor:
We need to reduce recidivism rates in our jails and prisons. While working in a jail, the majority of arrests I have seen are failure to appear in court violations. The penalties for failure to appear in Tennessee are: if your original charge was a Class A misdemeanor or any felony, your failure to appear charge will be a Class E felony. This is punishable by 1-6 years in prison and fines up to $3,000.
If your original charge was a misdemeanor, your failure to appear will be a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $2,500 (TCA 39-16-1609).
Most of the cases I have seen have held very minimal consequences. For instance, the first violation for failure to appear is 10 days of incarceration and the bail set at $25,000. This means that offenders can serve a small sentence or they can bond out for a small rate. The punishment for failure to appear for a misdemeanor charge needs to be changed to a month sentence and a fine of $2,000. The punishment for failure to appear for a felony charge needs to also be changed to a 3-month sentence and a $2,500 fine. The bond amount for this offense should be raised to $35,000. Another common offense that is prevalent is violation of probation. The first violation needs to be a minimum sentence of 2 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The second violation should be 6 months in jail and a fine of $2,000. The third violation needs to be a 1-2-year sentence and a fine of $3,000. These changes I mentioned are a collective incentive for the public, offenders and non-offenders, that they will be held more accountable. This is to deter individuals from committing offenses and to better themselves before they fall back into the system. Knowing that there is a significant sentencing period for their actions, it will keep offenders from violating and keep them out of our jails.

Brianna Buck
Milligan College

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