Godwin: Sweep of repeat offenders highlights need for tougher laws - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Godwin: Sweep of repeat offenders highlights need for tougher laws

By Jason Miles - bio | email

The Memphis Police Department rounded up more than two dozen suspected drug dealers and gang members during Operation Blue Star on Thursday morning.

Police say many of the suspects should never have been out of jail in the first place.

"These individuals will kill a cop. They will kill anybody...do whatever it takes to satisfy their needs," said police director Larry Godwin.

During a sweep of two public housing areas near Downtown Memphis, undercover cops found weapons, large amounts of drugs and even bullet proof vests worn by Memphis Police officers, Godwin said.

More than half of those arrested Wednesday were already on probation or parole, or out on bond for other offenses. Several have convictions for murder or attempted murder.
"We keep locking them up and they keep getting out," Godwin said.
Godwin and Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons say Operation Blue Star serves as a reminder of cracks in the criminal justice system that need to be fixed.

"One...if it's going to cost more money to incarcerate more people (violent criminals) for larger periods of time, so be it," said Gibbons.
Godwin says he hopes other parts of the state are watching what's happening here. He says lawmakers need to realize that other cities are not immune from the violent crime Memphis is up against.
"They can talk about fiscal notes all they want. We're paying for it right now," said Godwin. "It's time to put a stop to it with tougher laws."

The biggest impediment to tougher laws is money. Eliminating parole for first-time aggravated robbery convicts would reportedly cost the state more than $73 million in incarceration costs alone.

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