At the Tennessee Conservative: Legislation Would Ensure Some Criminals Serve 100% Of Their Sentence

Apr 12, 2022 | op-ed

The CPRC’s Nikki Goeser has a new op-ed up at the Tennessee Conservative.

There is legislation that is making its way through the state legislature called the Truth In Sentencing Bill that would expand the list of offenses that would mandate an inmate serve 100% of their sentence. I SUPPORT THIS BILL and let me tell you why.

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Right now, victims are lied to everyday in criminal courtrooms across Tennessee when they are told their attacker will serve 100% of their prison sentence. How do I know?  THIS HAPPENED TO ME. 

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In 2009, my husband Ben was brutally murdered in front of me. Ben was shot seven times inside a busy Nashville restaurant by a man who had been stalking me. When the police searched my stalker’s vehicle at the crime scene, they found two more guns, ammunition, a baseball bat, binoculars, gloves, rope and a knife. The police discovered he made a number of physical preparations that very day. He purchased a shoulder holster, the binoculars, and bat. He even went to several locations that we were known to frequent, looking for us. When he couldn’t find us, he asked multiple acquaintances where we might be. He then proceeded to hunt us down, and murdered my husband.

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Despite that evidence, Judge Seth Norman of Davidson County dropped the first-degree premeditated murder charge to the lesser offense of only second-degree murder during the bench trial. Mental health experts testified they believe the murderer has delusional disorder of the persecutory type and erotomania. Ben’s murderer was sentenced to only 23 years in prison, and I was told it would be at 100% with no parole. 

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THAT WAS A LIE. He has been allowed to earn early release/good behavior credits, and he will serve less than 20 years in prison. His early release date is October 21, 2028.

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My husband’s murderer has continued stalking me from prison by sending twisted love letters for many years. IT’S TERRIFYING, but the good news is he has been charged with federal stalking. I don’t think this is good behavior. Do you?  Yet, knowing he is facing FEDERAL stalking charges, the Tennessee Department of Correction has not revoked his early release. This dangerous man is still set to be released early!

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My late husband won’t be getting released from death. I have never remarried and have no children. Ben and I wanted to have children. I lost my family and future at the hands of this violent stalker; one who has continued to try and assert a warped and twisted control over me, even from behind bars.

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If Truth In Sentencing becomes law, it will only apply to violent crimes committed on or after  July 1, 2022, so I will not personally benefit. However, I want those who are unfortunate victims in the future to know their violent attacker will be locked up for 100% of the sentence that is given. These years matter to victims like me. They are years someone like me could live in peace without constantly looking over the shoulder, worried for themself and their loved ones. 

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Opponents say that violent offenders need early release credits as a reward and motivator to encourage good behavior while in prison. If a violent offender will only behave because of some “reward” then is that prisoner truly and legitimately reformed to not reoffend once out in society?  Is it really genuine good behavior when you have to barter sentencing time with violent offenders at the expense of their victims and the rest of society? 

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The downtown Sacramento shooter who murdered six people recently, was released early from prison after serving less than half of a 10 year sentence for a violent domestic crime. Despite significant risk to society, he was let out early and he has now created even more victims.

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There are crimes that are so violent, terrifying, and egregious, that the convicted should absolutely be forced to serve 100% of their prison sentence. Truth In Sentencing is needed in Tennessee and I Thank you, Speaker Sexton and all legislators who support this bill!

Nikki Goeser, “Legislation Would Ensure Some Criminals Serve 100% Of Their Sentence,” The Tennessee Conservative, April 12, 2022.
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