New Domestic Violence Bill Would Keep Offenders Behind Bars

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New Domestic Violence Bill Would Keep Offenders Behind Bars

CREATED Mar 28, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A new bill working its way through the Tennessee Legislature would require domestic violence offenders to spend more time in jail.

In the State of Tennessee, convicted abusers rarely get jail time on a first offense and are usually only required to attend counseling. A second offense involving bodily injury is supposed to put a person behind bars for a minimum of 30 days, but that's not always the case.

The new bill would increase the minimum sentence from 30 to 45 days for second time offenders, in an effort to give victims more time to seek shelter and get help.

Laura Klesen, a domestic violence survivor, is in favor of the bill. She said she was the victim of an abusive relationship for nearly four years.

"It escalated to the point that he actually attempted to murder me," she said. "He tried to smother me."

He was arrested but Laura said he never spent a night in jail.

"One of the reasons why I never called the police was I thought he'll get arrested and he'll be out in a day or two," she said. "What am I going to do in a day or two?"

Nashville State Representative Sherry Jones is one of the bill's sponsors.

"The punishment needs to be significant so that the perpetrators realize you're not going to get a slap on the wrist and sent home," said Jones.

This bill would also toughen the penalty for third time offenders committing a domestic assault. Minimum jail time would go from 90 days to 120 days. 

The bill is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on April 2.