Keeping Violent Offenders Behind Bars

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(WVLT) - When the state legislature began the budget process, they started with a surplus and that means several extras are funded this year.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes a look at one of the, the state's crime package.

There are three major bills in the package and they all focus on keeping criminals off the streets.

Legislators say while that is not cheap, it is money well spent.

"We gotta keep the children safe," says Rep. Stacy Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville.

That's where "Jessica's Law" comes in.

It provides mandatory sentencing for child predators and GPS ankle bracelets when they get out.

"Jessica's Law has always been key to me, because it cracks down on child predators and that's something I've always tried to work hard on," says Campfield.

Criminals who use a gun while committing a crime will receive stiffer penalties and will be less likely to get parole.

"People who commit crimes with guns are the people who are going to be doing violent crimes. It's really usually those are the ones that escalate into worse things, murders, rapes, assaults, those are the real violent criminal offenders," he says.

A single inmate can cost taxpayers up to $20,000 a year.

"Keep them behind bars, keep them fed, keep prison guards on staff and things like that."

Another portion of the money spent in the crime package will go to state penitentiaries.

"For us to be able to keep more prisoners, which a lot of these crime bills do, to keep more prisoners behind bars we have to have the money to pay for the prisons and the prison guards and all that sort of thing."

All the bills are aimed at one thing: keeping criminals off the street.

But Campfield says a follow-up is necessary.

"With all this new money, the big thing is really getting accountability and make sure we're getting results for our new investment."

The crime package, along with all the portions of the budget, go into effect July 1st.

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