State Rep. Love Announces New Bills
By Shayla Simmons
Meter Staff Writer
During the National Conversation on Black Males & Violence at Tennessee State University, Representative Harold M. Love Jr. announced two bills.
The first of the bills demanded that any deaths or injuries sustained in police custody must be reported to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The benefit of the bill is to hold individuals accountable in cases of unexplained or mysterious circumstances resulting from the major issue of reoccurring police brutality.
When asked his opinion on the bill, and if he believed that it would prompt a noticeable change, Anthony “A.J.” Moreland Jr., sophomore biology major, replied, “I don’t see how it’s going to make a difference honestly. They (the police) could easily lie and people can easily accept those lies. Or they’ll shift the blame to someone or something else. You always see people say that they’re going to hold someone accountable but in the end, the accused usually gets away with it. Either they get off easy or they get off period.”
The second of the bills has lowered the offense of having an ounce or less of marijuana on one’s person to a lesser charge from a criminal felony to a noncriminal misdemeanor. The expected outcome of this bill is to firstly, allow officers to utilize their time for more serious offenses such as homicide and sexual assault. Secondly, it will negate from the preschool to prison pipeline by lowering incarceration rates. For students, this means that the risk of losing scholarships or financial aid or ultimately being kicked out of school would no longer be an issue.
James Stephens, a professor at Tennessee State, added a different perspective. “I think that penalties for drug related offenses need to be reduced. We can see the affect of banning illegal substances in history with prohibition, where the opposite intended affect led to organized crime,” said Stephens.
When asked how the passing of such a bill would affect the campus, Professor Stephens continued, “I think that students, as with anybody, you would see an increase in marijuana use. I don’t think it will change the culture of the campus. If you lessen the penalty for drug use and abuse, there will be more experimentation. Regardless of race or gender, students will do what they do on college campuses.”
Both bills are to be put into effect on July 1, 2016.