Survivors’ Safety Bill Passes Unanimously
Bill addressing minimum sentencing for repeat domestic abusers heads to the Governor’s desk
On April 2, the Tennessee General Assembly unanimously passed a bill, referred to as the “Survivors’ Safety Bill” (SB 1794 by Rep. Massey-R/HB 2337 by Rep. Jones-D), which will require persons convicted of a second, third, or subsequent domestic assault to serve the mandatory minimum sentence day for day and consecutively, in addition to serving the difference in time actually served and the maximum sentence on supervised probation, a pivotal change requiring no new funding.
The bill clarifies the intent of the mandatory minimum sentencing statute for repeat domestic assault offenders that was passed in 2012. Under the current statute, repeat convicted offenders do not necessarily serve their sentences day for day or consecutively, which means a second time offender may serve as little as 15 days in jail, often served on weekends, for inflicting bodily injury on a partner or family member. A repeat offender may also receive less actual jail time than the sentence imposed, with no supervised probation for the difference in time actually served and the maximum sentence.
“We’re pleased that the legislature put survivors and their families first and saw domestic violence for what it is: a nonpartisan issue and one of the most serious problems in Tennessee today,” said AWAKE President Sara Beth Myers. According to the TBI, in Tennessee, domestic violence accounts for more than half of all crimes involving victims AND more than half of all female-victim homicides. Tennessee is also currently ranked 6th in the nation for the number of women killed by men.
The bill passed both chambers unanimously with more than 40 co-sponsors from the Senate and House and will head to the Governor’s desk. “This legislation is such an important step toward helping to ensure offender accountability and provide more time for survivors of domestic violence to become safe and begin to heal,” Myers said.