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Republican-led Kentucky House advances crime reform bill with ‘three-strikes’ provision

The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee advanced a crime reform bill on Thursday that includes a three-strikes provision, meaning those convicted of three violent felonies would face life in prison.

In a 13-5 vote, the Republican-led committee sent an amended version of the 72-page bill, called the Safer Kentucky Act, to the full House for consideration. The bill includes over two dozen provisions, some of which have previously been introduced in the legislature, such as making fleeing police a Class C felony, while others, such as the creation of a stand-alone statute for carjacking, are new.

Lawmakers heard hours of emotional testimony from attorneys and from those affected by crime. Republican lawmakers have prioritized the legislation as a solution to the crime in big cities. In 2022, the state’s serious crime rate dropped, according to an annual report from Kentucky State Police.

“With this bill, we are reasserting some basic and simple truths, and that is that criminals — not society — are accountable for their actions,” said GOP state Rep. Jared Bauman, the bill’s sponsor, according to the Associated Press. “And society has the right to protect itself from the criminal element.”

However, some Democratic lawmakers called the GOP-backed bill too broad and accused Republicans of attempting to use incarceration as a solution to underlying problems.

“What this bill will do is criminalize our homeless people, criminalize our mentally ill people, criminalize our addicted people who are suffering from substance abuse disorder, and it will criminalize the poorest among us,” said Democratic state Rep. Nima Kulkarni, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It is not going to deter criminals who are going to do those crimes because we are not addressing any of these underlying reasons for these crimes in this bill.”

-Washington Examiner

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