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GOP Lawmakers Propose Safer Kentucky Act to Combat Crime Surge

In response​ to a ​surge in criminal ⁤activities across Kentucky, a group of Republican lawmakers from Louisville has unveiled the Safer Kentucky Act, a legislative proposal aimed at modernizing criminal statutes in the state. The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jared Bauman, expressed ⁤the urgent need⁢ for action, highlighting the increasing concerns about safety in Kentucky.

“Our city has seen at least 115 homicides this year, and just this weekend a 14-year-old was killed only 15 minutes from here,” ‌Mr. Bauman ⁤said in an announcement this week. ‍“Earlier this month, we experienced⁤ fear and terror‌ in neighborhoods of ‍the very district I represent as a violent criminal ⁣preyed on our innocent and unsuspecting neighbors.⁣ My constituents are fed up.”

Mr. Bauman added⁢ that his constituents don’t feel⁢ safe ⁣in their own neighborhoods or even their ⁢homes.

“If we do not do something now, things will ​only⁢ get worse,” he said. “And, while we⁢ talk about crime​ here in ⁣Louisville, it is an issue that unites Kentuckians ⁤across the state. Kentuckians deserve better.”

The act ‌encompasses a wide range of provisions designed to enhance ⁤public safety ​and hold ⁤offenders accountable for their actions. Mr. Bauman said in an email to The⁤ Epoch Times that the bill’s language is still being worked on and will be released in full to the public in December.

Three Strikes Law

Among the notable components of the ⁣Safer Kentucky Act is the⁣ introduction of a “Three Strikes Law.” This provision would target violent persistent felony offenders, mandating⁢ life imprisonment without probation or parole for individuals convicted of⁣ a violent felony with two prior violent ⁤felony ‍convictions.

“We cannot just​ stand by⁣ as our state’s most violent offenders circulate ‍between the courts, the correction system, and back on our ⁣streets committing crimes,” Mr. Bauman ⁢said in his statement. “Let’s shut the revolving door! We must reform criminal law⁣ to hold violent persistent felony offenders⁣ accountable.”

He added⁢ the provision ‌is in place in almost 30 ⁤states, ⁤and states other than Kentucky are also actively ⁢considering a‌ similar law.

To address the opioid crisis and the devastation caused by fentanyl-related deaths, the act proposes enhanced penalties for fentanyl delivery cases leading to overdose deaths. Under​ this provision,⁣ individuals knowingly selling fentanyl‌ that results in a fatal ‍overdose could face the death penalty or life imprisonment without the⁣ possibility of‍ parole.

“Death by delivery constitutes murder,” a‍ press release from the Kentucky House Majority Caucus said.

The ⁤provision also allows the death penalty or life without parole for an individual that ⁤knowingly‌ sells fentanyl or a ⁣fentanyl derivative to another⁣ person when⁤ the injection, ingestion, inhalation, or⁤ other⁤ introduction of the fentanyl or‌ fentanyl derivative causes⁤ the death of such person.

“Drug trafficking is destroying our communities with substances like ⁢fentanyl being a leading contributor ‌to overdose deaths,” Mr. Bauman said. ‌“Those who‌ deliberately sell fentanyl know how dangerous it ​is to be exposed to even⁢ a small amount of this ⁢dangerous drug and⁣ they ‍are responsible for causing​ death by delivery. They ​are responsible for murder.”

To combat drug-related issues specifically within correctional facilities, the ‌Safer Kentucky Act seeks to crack down on contraband by increasing penalties for providing substances‌ like fentanyl and its derivatives within detention facilities.

Focus on Louisville ⁤and Other Provisions

Recognizing the need for enhanced law enforcement presence, the act mandates the establishment of a Kentucky State Police (KSP)⁤ post in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, where crime rates have surged in⁣ recent years.

The act also​ addresses concerns related to bail funding organizations ⁣through ‌”Madelynn’s Law,” which⁢ prevents charitable organizations from furnishing bail of ‌$5,000 or more and requires ‌photo identification for bail posters. This provision is named after Madelynn Troutt, a young victim of an accident involving a man released on bail.

Other notable components ‍of the⁢ Safer Kentucky⁤ Act include empowering employees and business owners to protect themselves and prevent theft through “shopkeeper’s privilege,” allowing reasonable use of force to protect property and‍ providing civil immunity for owners and employees.

Additional provisions ⁢include increasing penalties for attempted murder, holding parents accountable​ by requiring their attendance at juvenile court hearings, facilitating ‌the reentry ‌of former ⁢inmates into ⁣society, and classifying carjacking as⁤ a felony ⁣with⁤ varying degrees of punishment based on the outcome.

Furthermore, the act addresses issues such ‍as ⁣vandalism, mandatory ​sentencing for guns used ⁣in crimes, involuntary confinement for the ‌mentally ill, allowing law enforcement to⁤ use wiretapping, auctioning confiscated guns, banning street camping, seeking the death penalty for​ the murder of law enforcement officers, and ​reforming the ⁢parole board ⁣to ensure responsible ⁢decision-making.

Lawmakers have⁢ fewer than 100 days before they will convene⁢ for ‍the next Regular Session of the Kentucky‌ General Assembly on Jan. 2, 2024, and⁣ they are expected to continue working with stakeholders to refine the⁢ Safer Kentucky Act. They intend to present the measure to an Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary in December.

Addressing Inaccurate Crime‍ Reporting

In a separate statement issued ⁤on Oct.‌ 4, ⁣the⁣ same lawmakers expressed concerns about the accuracy‍ of annual crime data reported since they released their ⁤proposal⁤ to tackle crime last ⁢week.

“Recent news ‍reports of discrepancies in crime data calls into question the entire annual report and how such inaccuracies cleared the process,” the caucus said in a statement. “Was ​this an intentional underreporting​ and is the administration trying to hide the truth? The numbers that ⁣the Louisville Metro Police Department submitted are not even close to what was reported‍ in⁢ the 2022 Crime in Kentucky report released in July.”

Accurate data, ​they argued, is ​essential for developing effective legislation to combat the ongoing crime epidemic.

Kentucky​ House Majority Whip Jason Nemes stated, “Under⁢ this proposal, ‍individuals using a ​firearm possessed ‍in violation of ‌state law‌ will not be​ entitled to probation, parole, or conditional release⁢ and discharge. We must punish criminals and send the message to those who would become felons or repeat offenders.”

The lawmakers emphasized the need for ‌comprehensive record-keeping to identify crime patterns and guide informed policy decisions that enhance​ public security.

Criticisms

Some ‍criticism of the plan⁣ has come‌ from even within the Republican Party in Kentucky. Republican state ⁢Rep. Savannah Maddox, noting she had‍ not seen a draft of‌ the bill, was concerned ​even with the ⁢outline, specifically ⁣wiretapping ​proposals.

“Folks, I ‌am⁣ blown away ‍that wiretapping is ⁣being contemplated‍ in a Republican supermajority. Some of⁤ the items on this list make sense, others are absolutely ⁤bananas,” ⁤she wrote on X.​ “I cannot ​provide a complete ⁣analysis until I have a bill draft in hand, but I can tell you right now that I will never support legislation​ that allows‌ for WIRETAPPING at the ⁢state level.”

She‌ added that in her belief, there is a risk of abuse and potential for violation of the ⁢right to privacy and even constitutional protections, ‌”no matter how⁢ narrowly tailored.”

The proposal notes Kentucky is one of a handful ‌of states that prevents law enforcement from‌ using the practice. ⁣It calls⁤ for allowing local and state law enforcement to partner with the federal government to⁣ obtain wiretaps to investigate heinous crimes and gangs.

The proposal also would ​“allow for⁤ the state’s attorney general or any commonwealth’s attorney to apply to‍ a judge of​ competent jurisdiction for an order authorizing the interception of wire, oral, ⁣or⁤ electronic communications” if it could potentially ⁢provide evidence​ of a range of crimes such as murder, kidnapping, human ‍trafficking, and⁢ child⁢ sexual exploitation.

The ⁢American ‍Civil ‍Liberties Union of Kentucky posted⁤ on X that the proposal is akin to “ineffective” tough-on-crime approaches tried in ⁣the 1980s.

“Crime⁤ is ​a⁤ systemic problem solved by access to basic needs—not punitive measures that ⁣perpetuate Kentucky’s mass incarceration crisis,” the ⁢organization added.

⁢ What provisions are included⁤ in the ​Safer⁢ Kentucky Act proposed ⁢by Republican lawmakers from Louisville?

At offenders that Kentucky will ​not tolerate ‌their actions.”

The lawmakers called for a thorough investigation into the discrepancies in⁢ crime data and ⁣urged the administration to address any potential underreporting or inaccuracies. They emphasized the importance​ of transparency and accountability in ensuring accurate information for lawmakers to make informed⁢ decisions.

“The safety and well-being of our citizens are at stake, and ⁣we cannot afford ⁤to overlook or ‍downplay the⁣ severity of the crime crisis in our state,” said ⁣Representative Bauman. “The ⁣Safer ‌Kentucky Act is ⁢a comprehensive and proactive approach to address these issues, but we need accurate data to understand⁢ the full ⁤extent ‌of the problem and​ develop⁤ effective ‌solutions.”

In conclusion, the‍ Safer Kentucky Act proposed by a group of Republican lawmakers from Louisville aims to modernize ​criminal statutes ⁢in response to a surge in criminal activities‌ across the state. The act includes provisions such as the Three⁢ Strikes Law, enhanced penalties for fentanyl-related deaths, crack ⁤down on contraband in correctional facilities, increased law ​enforcement presence, and other⁣ measures to promote public safety and ⁤hold ‍offenders accountable.

Lawmakers are working to refine⁢ the bill’s ‌language​ and ⁢plan to present it to the Interim Joint Committee ‌on Judiciary‍ in December. Their efforts ⁢are driven by the urgent need to address the increasing⁢ concerns about safety in Kentucky and provide better protection‌ for ⁣Kentuckians.

Accurate crime data is crucial for developing effective legislation, and lawmakers have expressed concerns about potential discrepancies and underreporting. They call for transparency, accountability, and ⁤a thorough investigation into⁤ these issues to ensure that accurate information is available to address the ongoing ⁢crime epidemic in the state.

With time running out before the next Regular Session of ‍the ⁤Kentucky General Assembly, ​lawmakers are⁤ committed ⁤to continuing their work and collaborating⁤ with ‍stakeholders to refine the Safer Kentucky⁤ Act. The ⁣goal is to create‌ a safer and more ‌secure environment for ‍all residents of‍ Kentucky and send a strong message to criminals that ​their actions ​will not be tolerated.



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