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Bill Requires Stiffer Domestic Violence Sentences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The Tennessee House has passed Gov. Bill Haslam's bill to require mandatory jail time for people with repeat domestic violence convictions.

The chamber voted 98-1 to approve the bill. The lone vote against the measure came from Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect.  Bass says the bill shouldn’t be passed until the state agrees to pay local governments the entire increased costs of putting more abusers in jail.

However, the director of the Murfreesboro domestic violence program, Deborah Johnson, says Rep. Bass should also consider the possible savings.

“The cost that we’re paying for the victim to run and hid and miss work and go to the Emergency Room costs the community so much more than this additional jail time is going to cost. This is going to be a really good buy overall for any community that has this.”

Johnson says her organization helped abuse victims file nearly 700 Orders of Protection in Rutherford County in 2011, with about a third of those later filing criminal charges as well.

The companion bill to the House domestic violence measure is awaiting a full vote in the Tennessee Senate.