The man accused of sucker punching a woman at random in Fort Worth has done it before. But he never faced the kind of punishment the district attorney says he deserved.
A new bill in the Texas legislature aims to get tougher punishments for career criminals. Under the proposal, repeat offenders who have been convicted of four or more misdemeanors within ten years would have their charges upgraded to a felony and face up to two years in state prison.
With the new proposal, they’re hoping to not only hand down tougher punishments but to also keep repeat offenders from coming back into the court system.
Police arrested 33-year old David Earl Thomas, a repeat offender who’s done the same thing multiple times before and has been arrested 11 times since 2002.
Thomas’s case got Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson thinking about repeat offenders with multiple misdemeanor cases in the system, which make up about 16 percent of the Tarrant County jail population.
“The problem with him is he has 9 prior misdemeanors. Four of those five of those are for assaults. And it’s never anything more than a misdemeanor,” she said. “Misdemeanor punishment is not a deterrent for those people.”
Under a new proposal, repeat offenders convicted of four or more misdemeanors within ten years would have their charges upgraded to a felony and face up to two years in state penitentiary. Normally, they would just go back to the county jail for a year or less.
“We know jail time is not deterring this very limited or specific group of people because they go to jail all the time,” Wilson said. “They get out, and it happens again.”
The bill was filed last week by State Representative Charlie Geren. He believes a tougher punishment and state prison time could deter criminals from getting arrested again.
“I think what the law is missing is putting the fear of real jail in front of these people,” ‘he said. “They don’t care if they go to the Tarrant County Jail or the Dallas County Jail. They’re used to it. They know everybody down there.”
If passed, the bill could take effect in September.