(NASHVILLE, TN), May 16, 2011 – The House of Representatives and State Senate approved and sent to Governor Bill Haslam a timely measure today in response to reports of looting taking place following the recent storms that tore through Tennessee. Senate Bill 1095, sponsored by Senator Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), and Representatives Jeremy Faison (R- Cosby) and David Hawk (R-Greeneville), authorizes judges to sentence a convicted looter who takes advantage of a natural disaster, like the recent storms, to public service work in addition to any fine or other punishment assessed by the court.
“We are talking about people who are victimized twice – once by the storms and then by criminals who take advantage of an already horrible situation,” said Senator Southerland. “This is a despicable crime when looters steal by picking through the remainder of any items not already ravaged by the storm.”
“We must take additional steps to protect families who are already hurting and should not be subjected to this kind of criminal behavior,” said Representative Faison. “Hopefully, it will also help the criminal see the suffering associated with their crime. At the same time, this legislation will help our communities in cleaning up in the aftermath of the storms.”
“Those who loot from storm victims need to pay the price for this heartless crime, including labor,” added Representative Hawk. “I am very pleased this bill has been passed and hopeful it will be signed into law and implemented soon.”
The bill applies to looting which occurs during or within 30 days of the disaster and within the area affected, if the owner is unable to properly guard his or her property due to the destruction. The legislation also says that the person who violates the law under these circumstances may be required to perform debris removal, clean-up, restoration or other necessary physical labor at the location of the disaster for a period of not less than 30 days or more than the maximum sentence authorized for the class of theft committed.
The bill will take effect upon the governor’s signature and applies to violations committed on or after the effective date.