Kentucky bill calling for harsher criminal penalties heads to governor's desk

2 weeks ago 9
  • The Kentucky House voted Thursday successful favour of a sweeping transgression justness bill, which, if enacted, volition present harsher sentences successful an effort to deter illicit activity.
  • The measure present heads to the table of a skeptical Gov. Andy Beshear.
  • "It's hard to remark connected a measure that tries to bash this galore things," Beshear said of the legislation. "I deliberation it decently should person been divided into antithetic bills."

Republican lawmakers in Kentucky wrapped up enactment Thursday connected a sweeping transgression justness measure that would present harsher sentences to combat crime. Opponents making a past basal earlier last transition warned the measurement would transportation a hefty terms tag with nary assurances that a tougher attack volition little crime.

The House voted 75-23 aft different agelong statement to nonstop the measurement to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. The monolithic authorities is simply a precedence for galore successful the GOP supermajority legislature.

The politician has signaled helium likes aspects of the sprawling measure but dislikes different sections, including provisions to make the transgression of unlawful camping, which critics accidental would criminalize homelessness.


"It's hard to remark connected a measure that tries to bash this galore things," Beshear said recently. "I deliberation it decently should person been divided into antithetic bills."

House Bill 5 — 1 of the astir contentious of the legislative league — would marque a multitude of changes to the state’s transgression code, enhancing galore existent penalties and creating caller offenses.

Supporters portrayed the measure arsenic a indispensable argumentation displacement that would bash much to clasp criminals accountable and to marque communities safer.

"If you get convicted of a convulsive crime, you’re going to the large location and you’re going for a agelong time," Republican Rep. Jason Nemes said successful defending the measure against blistering disapproval from Democrats.

One salient diagnostic would make a "three-strikes" punishment that would fastener up felons for the remainder of their lives aft committing a 3rd convulsive offense.

Kentucky Capitol

The Kentucky Capitol is seen, Jan. 14, 2020, successful Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Opponents said the measurement failed to delve into the basal causes of transgression and warned of imaginable skyrocketing costs by putting much radical down bars for longer sentences.

"To summation the penalties whitethorn marque america connected insubstantial look similar we consciousness safer. I bash not cognize that it volition marque america really beryllium much safe," said Democratic Rep. Tina Bojanowski.

To bolster nationalist safety, she suggested specified alternatives arsenic temporarily taking guns distant from radical experiencing intelligence wellness crises, amended protecting home unit victims and improving entree to lodging — things not addressed by the legislation. Other critics said much effectual ways to combat crime would beryllium to rise the minimum wage and walk much connected rehabilitative services.

The bill's supporters focused mostly connected municipality transgression successful pushing for tougher policies. A instrumentality enforcement study released past twelvemonth showed that wide superior transgression rates fell crossed Kentucky successful 2022, with declines successful reports of homicides, robberies and cause offenses.

Opponents said the imaginable of much transgression offenders serving longer sentences volition saddle the Bluegrass State with importantly higher corrections costs and enactment much strain connected overcrowded jails.

The fiscal enactment attached to the measure said the wide fiscal interaction was "indeterminable" but would apt pb to a "significant summation successful expenditures chiefly owed to accrued incarceration costs."

The measurement would adhd to the database of convulsive crimes that necessitate offenders to service astir of their sentences earlier becoming eligible for release.

Another cardinal conception aims to combat the prevalence of fentanyl by creating harsher penalties erstwhile its organisation results successful fatal overdoses. Fentanyl is simply a almighty synthetic opioid seen arsenic a cardinal origin successful the state’s precocious decease toll from cause overdoses.

The conception stirring immoderate of the astir heated statement would make an "unlawful camping" discourtesy applied to the homeless. It means radical could beryllium arrested for sleeping oregon mounting up campy successful nationalist spaces — whether connected streets, sidewalks, nether bridges oregon successful beforehand of businesses oregon nationalist buildings. A archetypal discourtesy would beryllium treated arsenic a violation, with consequent offenses designated arsenic a misdemeanor. People could slumber successful vehicles successful nationalist for up to 12 hours without being charged with unlawful camping.

Several 1000 radical acquisition homelessness successful Kentucky connected a fixed night, advocates say.

The measure would make a standalone carjacking instrumentality with enhanced penalties. Another proviso would connection workers and concern owners transgression immunity successful cases wherever they usage a "reasonable magnitude of force" to forestall theft oregon support themselves and their stores.


The bill's pb sponsor is Republican Rep. Jared Bauman and the measurement drew dozens of cosponsors.

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