Law enforcement FED UP with crime, seek tougher sentencing

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With violent crime up almost 10 percent in Memphis and Shelby County, law enforcement agencies want to see tougher penalties for those convicted of gun violence.

City, county, and federal authorities announced the roll out of the FED UP campaign on Monday.

"It hurts the people who live in Memphis," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said. "I don't want to talk to anymore mothers whose child has died as a result of gun violence."

Previously, people convicted of a violent crime or drug offense faced a minimum of three years in prison. But, because of a new state law, they could face up to eight years in prison.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said her office will not be making any deals for felons in possession of a handguns.

"If you commit a gun crime, you're looking at the maximum time, state or federal," Weirich said.

MPD Director Mike Rallings warns those committing violent crimes to put the guns down now before they get caught and face tougher sentences.

"We're trying to give individuals a heads up. We're telling you to put the guns down now," Rallings said.

Federal authorities said they'll step up their enforcement of cases where violent criminals are found with guns.

"Everybody wants a safe place to live and work and we're going to do everything we can do to get that done," acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Laurenzi said.

However, the idea of tougher sentencing and locking people up for longer periods of time is not favored by everyone,

Josh Spickler, with Just City, said research shows putting people behind bars for longer is more expensive and does not actually cut crime.

"The answer is to address the flow of guns into this community," Spickler said. "To address the number of young people in this community who have no opportunities, to address systemic generational poverty in this community."

City of Memphis is throwing in $300,000 for the FED UP marketing effort, which will help put TV ads, radio ads, and billboards all across Memphis.

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