Cracking Down on Weak, “Suspended Sentences” in Montana’s Judiciary
We had a couple callers call in to our statewide radio show earlier this week. What's with all of these weak "suspended sentences" that judges are handing out here in Montana? Why is it that criminals convicted of serious crimes like rape and murder are given these suspended sentences?
Great questions, and I think we may have some good news for you following Montana's legislative session. That's how I responded.
I also followed up by reaching out to Rep. Jimmy Patelis (R-Billings) who authored legislation cracking down on "suspended sentences." The bottom line is this: you may see or hear a headline talking about a judge issuing a 70 year sentence, but then you read further and find that the judge suspended 40, 50, or even 60 of those years- along with "credit for time served." So at the end of the day these hardened criminals barely serve any time in prison and wind up back on our streets to commit more crimes.
Here's part of what Rep. Patelis had to say, as he made the point that letting too many offenders out of prison too early will clog our probation and parole system from monitoring and preventing a re-offense:
Patelis: The sentence isn't meaningful...and what it has done- it has clogged our system up with these high case loads which doesn't allow the probation and parole officers to isolate on the offenders like they should.
Patelis himself is a former federal probation and parole officer.
Click below for audio:
His bill, House Bill 553, has now thankfully been signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT). Click here for the full story on the KULR8-TV website.