Local police are partnering with federal officials in hopes of reducing violent crime. US attorney, Joe Hogsett held forums in Nashville and in Martinsville today to announce the joint initiative focused on prosecuting “the worst of the worst.”
Before addressing the audience, which included Morgan County Sheriff Robert Downey, Prosecutor Steve Sonnega and Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard, Hogsett handed out a pamphlet to everyone in attendance which outlines the major points of emphasis for the initiative. He then began the forum by explaining who “the worst of the worst” are.
“Every community has certain individuals who are cycled in and out of local jails,” Hogsett said.
According to the initiative repeat offenders who have committed eligible offenses such as illegally possessing guns, trafficking narcotics or being involved in gang activity will be prosecuted under the federal law rather than state.
Prosecutor Steve Sonnega says offenders who are prosecuted under the state law only serve an average 50 percent of their sentences while those prosecuted under federal law serve 85 percent.
“A 20-year sentence in federal court means that the person would serve 85 percent of 20,” Sonnega said. “So, if my math is correct, that’s a 17-year actual time in prison. State law, by comparison, is a 50 percent good time automatic so a 20 year sentence becomes a 10-year sentence.”
Hogsett says his office plans to offer training to local law enforcement officers on what evidence is necessary for a federal prosecution.