Sen. Southerland highlights recently passed “Truth in Sentencing” legislation

State Senator Steve Southerland says “Truth in Sentencing” legislation was passed in the body this week. It ensures certain violent or sexual offenders serve 100 percent of the sentence imposed by a judge or jury. It affects offenses that historically target women and children, such as rape, sexual battery, sexual abuse of a child, sexual battery by an authority figure, incest, promoting prostitution, aggravated child abuse, domestic assault, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and trafficking for a commercial sex act. The average sentence currently imposed on a person convicted of rape is seven years, while less than five years are generally served. Research consistently shows that firefighters experience PTSD at higher rates than most professions, with some studies showing rates as high as 37 percent. The new legislation states that when a firefighter seeks treatment for PTSD, there is a presumption that it is a work-related injury. Under current law, there is a legal presumption that any full-time firefighter, paramedic, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or Advanced EMT who is infected with either HIV or Hepatitis C was inflicted with the disease on the job. In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, new legislation would broaden the legal presumption to include infectious diseases.