State lawmaker pushes for tougher sentencing laws - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

State lawmaker pushes for tougher sentencing laws

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A Mid-South lawmaker and a crime victim are fighting for truth in sentencing after a man convicted in a brutal crime was released from prison early.

Tuesday, Carlos Thomas found himself out of jail - a free man. Thomas was convicted of brutally raping and nearly beating Kimberlee Morton to death in November of 1998.

According to legal documents, Thomas was supposed to serve his entire sentence, but instead, he is getting out early for good behavior.

Now, a Mid-South lawmaker is reacting Thomas' release. State Representative Barrett Rich said Tuesday his is committed to changing Tennessee law to prevent this from happening again.

"Why should an inmate who's been incarcerated for such a violent act get out early for doing what he's supposed to do?" he asked.

Kimberlee Morton will never forget the day thirteen years ago when she was left for dead.

"I'd rather wear these scars versus sleeping in my grave," she said. "He just grabbed me and dragged me to my bed, threw me on the bed, and savagely raped me."

Morton was also stabbed and burned with bleach.

Thomas was released from prison early after serving 85 percent of a 15 year sentence. He earned time reduction credits for completing programs and participating in activities.

Rich believes Thomas and others in prison for similar crimes should not get out early because of good behavior behind bars.  Violent offenders, he said, are behind bars for a reason, and should stay there until they serve all their time.

"And if he doesn't complete these programs and doesn't act as a model inmate, he should have to serve more time," Rich said.

More time is exactly what Kimberlee Morton is fighting for as well.

Rich drove to Nashville Tuesday, where he planned to draft a bill that would force criminals to stay in prison for the entire time of their sentence.

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