It’s safe to say that most law abiding citizens in this area are sick and tired of the way our local gunmen, thieves, hoods, car-jackers, home invaders, robbers, truants, and other cankers on our society have exercised control on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
Whose fault is it? The impotent and incessant blaming and finger-pointing exercises offered as explanations for this condition have become too tiresome to endure. The fault for this mess falls squarely upon the shoulders of the parents, the judges, the local politicians, the prosecutors, and the legislators, all of whom are about equally blame worthy. None of them are performing creditably in their roles. The only public servants who seem to be trying their best to curb and control the situation are the members of our law enforcement agencies, and they get precious little support for their efforts.
Lawyers, judges, habitual whiners, activists, housing project mouthpieces, and other assorted scolds have been heard to say that our court system is just “following the law” when slaps on the wrists are meted out for criminal behavior, but I doubt very seriously that our judges and prosecutors are doing all within their power to incarcerate these criminals for the longest periods of time permitted by law. When a judge issues a sentence for less than the maximum allowable sentence for a convicted criminal involving a firearm or violence, that should be a rare exception. The normal sentence for such a crime should be the maximum allowed.
All judges and prosecutors worthy of their positions and all lawyers fit to practice law should be frequently speaking to the community about the travesty the current judicial climate represents. I haven’t seen any of our current tribe of judges or lawyers making any real and sustained effort to inform the citizenry why they are saddled with this insane system whereby the same criminal individuals are repeatedly brought before the bar of justice, slapped on the wrist, and turned loose on society again and again.
Neither have I noticed any of our judges or lawyers petitioning the legislature for more stringent laws to punish criminal activity. The daily newspapers should be full of articles by editors and prominent members of the legal profession imploring, and demanding, that the legislature get off the dime and promulgate the sensible, strict, and severe penalties that are needed to address the stupid situation we find ourselves in today.
Not being a lawyer, I don’t understand the unnecessarily confused array of permitted punishments for the various crimes, but I believe that most allowable punishments are far too lenient to have much of a deterrent effect.
Bail, while I think I understand that it is a requirement in many cases, should be granted much more judiciously. And we should not repeatedly hear, “But the jails are already too full.” On the contrary, they are not full enough. Build more jails and keep more of these creatures off the streets.
Apologists for the system continually “explain” that “it isn’t the judges’ fault,” it’s the system designed by the legislators. To the extent that this is true, we should be bombarding the legislators with our demands that they fix this abomination they have foisted upon us.
The excuse that our prisons and jails are overcrowded doesn’t hold any water with me. It shouldn’t matter to any of us that our prisons and jails are overcrowded. They should be overcrowded. The current crime rate proves that there are not nearly enough people in prison. The only time there should be plenty of room in these lockups is when the crime rates fall to very low levels. That hasn’t been the case for a very long time and it’s not likely to obtain for many years to come. More and larger jails and prisons are improvements for which I will gladly pay more taxes. The more of these societal rejects we can put in prison, and keep in prison, the lower the crime rate will be and the safer our overall population will be.
The types of prisons we should build are those that are very unpleasant places to inhabit. There should be very little in the way of amenities. Once there, the inmates should immediately realize that the inside of a prison is a place to be avoided at all costs. Once freed, after serving every day of their sentence (no time off for good behavior, since the time for good behavior is before the commission of a crime), their experience should instill dread in their souls at the prospect of a repeat visit. And any repeat visit they earn for the same or similar crime should for a length of time geometrically longer than their prior visit. More miscreants in prisons equals less crime on our streets. Some individuals, by their actions, forfeit their right to live among decent citizens. The laws should be structured to achieve this end.
Anyone caught committing a crime while in possession of a firearm should suffer a certain, quick, and severe penalty, a penalty so severe that they will be in absolute fear of being apprehended by law enforcement officers while in possession of an illegal firearm.
Anyone found in possession of an illegal firearm, whether during the commission of a crime or not, should suffer an immediate penalty so severe that the thought of having such a firearm should make a person shudder with fear at the mere contemplation of being in such a situation. The fear should be so great as to make them recoil violently from anyone offering them such a firearm. Conviction for possession of an illegal firearm should be a non-bailable offense.
Examples of the ridiculous state of our legal system are some of the statements made on Monday morning in Federal Judge Sandy Mattice’s court (as reported on the Chattanoogan.com website) during the sentencing of a convicted animal abuser.
Prosecutor Steve Neff noted that the federal Horse Protection Act has been on the books since 1970, but no one had been charged under it until a year and a half ago.
Mr. Prosecutor, we all know that there have been more than ample opportunities for conscientious and competent prosecutors to bring cases of this type for many years, but that for reasons we can only surmise, they have chosen not to act. We wonder what influences have been brought to bear on these prosecutors over the years to encourage this inactivity on their part.
Judge Mattice said, regarding the communications he has received on the subject of abuse in the walking horse industry, "I've heard from hundreds, if not thousands, of people. I hope they understand that the court doesn't make the laws. That happens in the large building with the dome on it."
Yes, judge, we understand where the federal laws and the state laws are made and we also understand that when the members of the legal community fail to enforce the laws already on the books and fail to lobby the legislators to strengthen the ridiculously weak laws that are on the books, these types of crimes will not only continue, they are encouraged by this ineffective legal system.
If Judge Mattice and Prosecutor Neff truly hope that the new attention to the law has brought a major focus on treatment of horses and that it will start creating a change in the culture, they should be doing more than just “hoping,” they should be leading the charge to get the Tennessee and the national legislatures off their duffs with regard to reforming the laws in this area. The laws should be changed so that the people responsible for committing and facilitating this type of cruelty should be assured of receiving and serving long prison sentences.
Let’s encourage all the representatives of the legal system to lobby for more stringent and sensible laws and law enforcement.
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I think Mr. Williams hit the nail on the head.
I have a problem with crimes committed with guns, and the information I provided below is primarily directed for criminals who use guns in commission of crimes.
Our system of justice is too lenient on criminals committing acts of violence, especially with guns. If you do some research, countries abroad, cut off hands, have public beatings, public hangings, public firing squad, etc, although I'm not advocating we start doing it here. These countries as a rule, don't have repeat offenders, and crime rates are very low.
Also, as Mr. Williams mentioned about prisons. The prison conditions should be harsh, no TV, no air conditioning, no exercise weights, etc, etc., in other words, prison should be the last place on earth a human being would want to go.
I hope these politicians will wake up and get the job done.
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Mr. Rosenbloom, I once had a very, very wise and experienced professor in college who put the issue quite succinctly: "The only cure for recidivism is death."
The parade of previously-released and newly-charged murderers and career felons passing through our court system is the best example of why the "cure" should be far more potent and permanent than the "punishment." Otherwise, there is no point to our legal system whatsoever, because the innocent will continue to fall victim to the criminally-inclined career predators of this city, this state, and this nation.
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Tom Williams said, “The only public servants who seem to be trying their best to curb and control the situation are the members of our law enforcement agencies, and they get precious little support for their efforts.” How right you are, sir. Just take a look at the booking reports and compare the number of persons arrested to the number who actually spend any time in jail. Law enforcement puts them in jail and the system lets them go.
Recidivism is alive and well in the system all across the state of Tennessee. Locally we see the same faces in the courts day in and day out - the same thugs the same crimes and the same violations of probation over and over again. These same thugs go in and out of the system because they know there are no teeth in the laws to keep them in jail.
In contrast look at the state of Georgia who puts a screeching halt to crime by keeping offenders in jail. For example, the state of Georgia prisons outnumber Tennessee’s 2 to 1. When a crime is committed in Georgia such as theft, burglary or forgery they go to prison. In Tennessee “nonviolent” crimes are probatible and they never see the inside of a prison no matter how many times they offend. When you see the same names in the news over and over again for burglaries and thefts and they keep getting out there is a real problem. Juvenile offenders who offend over and over again with no consequences turn into adult offenders who continue to offend and very seldom if ever do any time in prison. Guess what, nonviolent criminals most often eventually commit violent crimes.
Our legislators strengthened the laws for offenders of crimes against children and ones where a gun was used but what they failed to mention was that the concession was to make all nonviolent crimes probatible.
The state will not build more prisons so they keep letting nonviolent prisoners out. I am all for building tent city prisons and putting the nonviolent prisoners in those. Our troops live in tents and bad conditions so why can’t prisoners? I just bet that after spending a year or two in a tent dealing with heat and cold that they would think twice about committing more crimes.
Contact your legislators, judges and district attorneys and demand that more be done to end the crime problems.
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The hard core criminals of Chattanooga are making a mockery of the district attorney's office. The criminals know the system better then anybody on the "hill" downtown. As a repeat victim, I see the same criminals, who are out on suspended sentences committ the same or worse crimes repeatedly, because once they plead not guilty, they are bound over to the grand jury. At that point they are free to continue their criminal career. They know from here on, they are on bond for the first case, they will be released under the existing bond. The public defender will go to court for him and say "your honor, we are bound over on another case." The thug doesn't even have to come to court. If the victim doesn't show up, case dismissed.
Grand jury takes six months to rule if the case should go to trial. Case is set a year down the road. The "alleged perpetrator" is free to continue his crime spree. When the case finally comes to trial the public defender's office and DA's office get together and "plea" the case. Usually the results are to drop all but one charge, reduce that charge and bad guy gets a suspended sentence. We have bad guys that are on 30, 90, 120 day suspensions, six months, one year, three years and six years suspended sentences when they committ another crime. This is public information. Go to Hamilton County Tennessee website, then click "courts", then look at case dispositions. Pick any name from the Chattanoogan.com breaking news column, and look at the record. It will blow your mind.
What I would like to see happen is whenever someone is arrested, their bond is revoked and set at the maximum allowable by law. Then any suspended sentence go into effect immediately while bad guy is waiting for grand jury to rule. What good is a three year suspended sentence if the criminals know it will not go into effect regardless of additional criminal activity?
We can't try every case. We can't lock up every offender. Plea bargains save taxpayer money. But, innocent people are being robbed at gunpoint, being shot, beaten, knocked to the ground by people who are on suspended sentences.
If you live, work, or visit Chattanooga, you are at risk every minute of every day of being assaulted, robbed and possibly killed by criminals on six year suspended sentences.
Mr. Bill Cox, tell the legislature and the public what you need to put these criminals in jail. We know who they are, and we know they will continue their life of crime if we dont lock them up.