Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton has appointed State Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, to a special committee to examine the adequacy of criminal sentencing and supervision following an uptick in serious violent crimes in Memphis.  

Created by the Speakers of the House and Senate, the joint ad hoc committee will review guidelines relevant to the supervision, investigation and release of individuals who commit crimes in Tennessee.

The announcement came days after a Memphis kindergarten teacher was kidnapped while jogging and later found murdered. In an unrelated incident Sept. 7, a mass shooter live-streamed the killing of four people on social media. Memphis residents were urged to shelter in place until the shooter was apprehended. The suspects in both cases are ex-felons recently released from prison. 

“Tennessee will not tolerate the kind of shocking violence that is crippling the city of Memphis,” Doggett said. “I have great faith that we will use every tool, every resource and every available bed in our prisons if we must to ensure citizens in every corner of our state are safe from evil, violent repeat offenders.”

The Tennessee General Assembly this year passed truth in sentencing reform that now requires offenders convicted in eight categories of violent crimes to serve 100 percent of their court-imposed sentences. These include attempted first and second-degree murder, vehicular homicide resulting from driver intoxication, aggravated vehicular homicide, especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, carjacking and especially aggravated burglary. The law went into effect July 1. 

“Clay Doggett is an effective, committed leader as chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, and he has continued fighting for proven measures that support victims and their families,” Sexton said. “His extensive knowledge and effective partnership with members of local and state law enforcement will prove invaluable for committee members as we all continue working together to reduce violent crime in communities across the state. I appreciate Clay’s willingness to serve on this committee, and I know he will do an incredible job.” 

The committee will recommend what further legislative action is needed to provide additional safeguards that protect the public from repeat violent offenders. 

The Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Adequacy of the Supervision, Investigation and Release of Criminal Defendants is expected to announce its first meeting in the coming weeks. Committee meeting schedules are posted on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website at capitol.tn.gov.

—House Republican Caucus

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