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New Domestic Violence Law to Require Mandatory Jail Time

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

It is something that most people do not freely talk about in public, but admit in private that family violence, domestic violence is a much bigger problem than many think.

Now, Tennessee lawmakers are taking steps to punish offenders in a more uniform way with a new bill that will require mandatory jail time for second time domestic violence offenders in Tennessee.

The Director of "WRAP" or the Women's Resource and Rape Assistance Program, Margaret Cole, knows better than most about the real dangers of domestic violence.

"In Jackson, West Tennessee, it is a major crime, it happens quite frequently, " said Cole.

Cole said she knows the statistic that one in every four women is abused is true.

Jackson Police Lt. Tyreece Miller, who oversees the police department's domestic violence unit said he could not agree more.

"About three fourths of the assaults of the simple assaults as well as the felonious assaults are domestic violence related," said Miller.
That is something Cole believes is not taken seriously in court.

"Even though you might be sentenced to 11 months 29 days, it's unlikely that you stay that long in jail," admitted Cole.

In the weekend case of Ricky Lunsford, who faces several charges including aggravated domestic assault, police said Lunsford was out on bond just 15 hours after his arrest.

Now, a new measure passed by the legislature and expected to be signed by the governor will require a mandatory 45 day jail sentence for anyone convicted of a second domestic violence offense. The measure also includes a mandatory 90 day sentence for repeat offenders who have been sentenced three or more times.

WRAP who cares for more than 1,500 victims in Madison County every year, questions if that is enough.

"If we are going to change it, let's go all the way and make it mandatory in that second offense for 11/29, but this is a good start. "


Governor Haslam announced that it is too late to fund any expansion of the bill this year, but plans to take another look at the measure next year."