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State Rep. Rusty Grills files bill to deter juvenile crime

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Rep. Rusty Grills, R-Newbern, this week introduced legislation aimed at curbing
a disturbing increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles in Tennessee.

House Bill 2126 would allow local district attorneys and judges to determine if a juvenile age 15 and older
should be transferred to adult criminal court when they are charged with committing or attempting to
commit organized retail crime or theft of a firearm.

The legislation addresses a dangerous trend in which minors are being recruited by adults to steal or break
into businesses, homes or cars because there are fewer consequences for their actions.

“This bill provides district attorneys and law enforcement with additional tools to fight gang violence,”
Grills said. “Serious crimes should have serious consequences. Treating juveniles as adults in these cases
acknowledges the severity of these crimes and will ensure victims’ rights are upheld. Our goal is to deter
and redirect at-risk young people so they do not become repeat violent offenders in the future.”

There were 13,700 juveniles arrested statewide for various crimes in 2022, according to the most recent
data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Of those arrests, 1,450 involved some form of theft or
stolen property offenses while 424 were for weapons law violations.

Existing state law already allows courts to transfer a juvenile to adult court for certain crimes, including
first-degree murder, second-degree murder, rape, aggravated rape, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a
child, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated
burglary, kidnapping, commission of an act of terrorism, and carjacking.

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