The Concurrent Hamilton County Grand Jury is calling for higher penalties for first-offense DUIs.
The panel, headed by Foreman Robert Smith, said it sees a number of repeat offenders driving while drunk.
Here is the full report:
The Honorable Rebecca Stern, Judge
Criminal Court, Division II
Hamilton County, Tennessee
The Concurrent Grand Jury for the January – April, 2008 term presents the following report:
The Grand Jurors found that their service has given them a heightened appreciation for the teamwork, courage and integrity of law enforcement personnel. The officers appear to be willing to set aside personal comfort and security in order to perform their assigned duties. When they appear before the Grand Jury, they are organized and articulate.
We appreciated the legal help provided by Bill West, Assistant District Attorney. Also, we very much appreciated Rebecca Smith serving as the notetaker for this term. The Foreman conducted the proceedings in an organized and unbiased fashion.
This report reflects the opinions of the Concurrent Grand Jury. We are charged with reporting on the Silverdale facility and Community Corrections. Although we are not reporting on the County Jail or Juvenile Justice Center, we appreciated the very informative tours provided by the officials of those facilities.
The Concurrent Grand Jury issues the following commendations and recommendations:
SILVERDALE FACILITY (CCA)
This facility was very clean and appeared to be managed in an efficient, professional and respectful manner.
While the different programs currently available to the inmates (AA, drug abuse counseling, anger management, parenting, GED and religious studies) may be adequate, additional teachers/volunteers and resources would provide opportunities for more inmates to utilize these services. Hopefully, participation in these activities will help the inmates to lead more productive lives upon their release. (Also, local faith-based organizations need to offer assistance to released inmates regarding housing, employment, counseling and education.)
If possible, some type of a vocational work-study experience should be considered, for inmates with a long sentence. Also, another option might be to establish a greenhouse where inmates can learn gardening techniques and the plants and produce could be sold to the public.
The current small recreational facility for the women inmates needs to be expanded, with organized activities to help release built-up energy and aggression.
The medical area appeared to be equipped and staffed to serve day-to-day inmate needs.
Since Silverdale is considered to be a “work house”, all inmates who are physically able should be required to perform some type of work, either within or without the facility. A daily structured environment should be provided to help the inmates to assimilate back into society.
These programs appear to be well organized and help to keep offenders, who can follow the requirements of the various programs, from being incarcerated and thus help to reduce overcrowding in the County penal facilities.
When possible, these programs should be expanded for more non-violent offenders.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
After hearing all of the different types of criminal cases during this term, the Concurrent Grand Jury is very concerned about the following:
The large number of individuals who are arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license, and/or driving without insurance and/or DUI.
Many of those arrested are multiple, repeat offenders. The Jury recommends longer jail sentences and/or mandatory seizure of the vehicle being driven after the first offense. The Jury finds it unacceptable that these repeat offenders endanger the general public by continuing to illegally operate a vehicle.
The number of financial type crimes, e.g., forgery, criminal impersonation and identity theft, being committed against elderly, disabled or incompetent individuals by their caregivers.
The State Legislature needs to enact statutes to provide for enhanced penalties for these types of crimes.
The number of crimes that are related, either directly or indirectly, to illegal drugs and gangs.
More resources, manpower, financial and educational need to be provided to combat this type of crime.
Concurrent Grand Jury