KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Governor Bill Haslam's State of the State Address included some proposals to make Tennessee a safer place. Half of all crimes in the state are those of domestic violence.
"In my eyes, he should of got life," said a domestic violence survivor that didn't want to share her name to keep her abuser from finding her again. She suffered through eight years of domestic abuse; he served jail time for just six months.
"It's just not right that they know in their mind, when they get in front of that judge that it's okay. That they can repeatedly do it again," she said of his punishment.
Governor Bill Haslam brought up domestic violence in his State of the State address. He wants to punish repeat offenders with mandatory time. It's an idea that survivors can stand behind.
"They should serve jail time the first, second, third and not get out the fourth," she said.
"It really is a stain on our state. It doesn't reflect our values as a community," said Dan Hoxworth, the president of Child and Family Tennessee. "But we need to rally together to really say how we're going to do this."
Hoxworth says it could be a great step, it doesn't address the whole issue including prevention and resources for survivors. And then there's the cost.
We asked Governor Haslam when he was in Knoxville last week:
"We haven't done it in the past because when you increase those jail sentences, that means more money," said Governor Haslam, during an interview following his legislative breakfast at the Knoxville Convention Center on January 23. "We have to put more money in the budget. It will cost us an extra $6 to $8 million dollars this year for increased jail time. Because we have to pay that. But we think that's a good trade to make for a safer society."
The state budget breakdown shows of that $6.8 million spent on public safety, $868,200 will be spent on the domestic violence measure. There's another $780,000 of state money set aside to help defray local jail costs. That still leaves an estimated $7.8 million up to the counties to pay.
"We've got to make sure that funding is available so it's not just being pushed down to local government as an unfunded mandate," said Russ Jensen, co-chair of the Community Coalition on Family Violence.
At least it's starting a conversation that addresses domestic violence in the open, says one survivor.
"I realized after having some support and security, that helped tremendously to know that I wasn't alone," she said.
To read the entire state budget, click on the link above.