Tennessee bill would make juveniles convicted as adults eligible for earlier parole

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A state bill being considered in Nashville is being called irresponsible and dangerous by some crime victims’ rights advocates. The bill would allow juveniles who have been convicted as adults to be eligible for earlier parole.

Jeanne Dotts Brykalski says the bill makes her feel “enraged, disgusted, frustrated and extremely sad.” Senate Bill 0197 would allow juveniles convicted as adults for crimes like murder and rape to be eligible for an earlier parole. A sentence of life without parole would be prohibited for juveniles convicted as adults and the bill would be retroactive.

“It’s an insult to anyone who has ever lost loved ones to murder,” said Brykalski.

Brykalski’s parents were murdered in their Farragut home in 1995. Three young men ages 13, 18 and 20 were convicted. Brykalski has started a petition asking for signature opposing the bill.

More online: View or sign the petition

“You’re letting people out, letting violent offenders out into the street that have not served their time and have not learned a lesson,” said Brykalski.

State Sen. Doug Overbey is sponsoring the bill.

“I think this bill is about giving those juveniles who were tried and convicted as adults and sentenced to life either with parole or without parole an opportunity for redemption and an opportunity for rehabilitation,” said Sen. Overbey.

Overbey says the bill would have the parole board consider several factors including if the inmate is dangerous or remorseful. He says having the option of an earlier parole gives juveniles convicted as adults more of an incentive to take prison programs and learn trades.

More online: Read Senate Bill 0197

“The taxpayers aren’t having to pay for their incarceration any longer. They can become productive members of society. They will be contributing to society in many ways including paying taxes,” said Sen. Overbey.

Brykalski doesn’t see it that way.

“It does not protect the people in the state of Tennessee. It endangers them,” said Brykalski.

The companion bills in the House and Senate are in the judiciary committee and have not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

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