The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill making any rioters who are from out-of-state or paid to riot guilty of a felony offense. Under the bill, it is considered a Class E felony for anyone who travels from outside the state with an intent to commit a crime or participates in a riot after being paid to do so. Courts must impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days imprisonment for one offense, or 60 days for two or more offenses.
The House passed the bill on Tuesday, 73 to 20. Nearly all Democrats opposed the bill, with the exception of State Representatives Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville), Darren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), and John Mark Windle (D-Livingston).
The General Assembly may increase charges for rioters that came from out of state, were paid to riot, or committed multiple riot-related offenses. Under the proposed bill, rioters would face a minimum of 60 days’ incarceration if they engage in two or more of those riot-related offenses. Current Tennessee Code doesn’t factor in details of residency or compensation for punishing rioters.
State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) introduced the bill in the beginning of February. Its companion bill in the House was introduced by State Representative Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) a day later. The bill is expected to be placed on the Senate’s calendar soon, and may soon emerge from committee in the House.