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Proposed Kentucky legislation would create 'three strikes rule,' toughen crime penalties

Josh James

Kentucky House Republicans are working on a comprehensive anti-crime bill dubbed the Safer Kentucky Act. The proposed legislation is still evolving, but a number of provisions are already grabbing attention.

Louisville Rep. Jared Bauman, a Republican, characterized crime as a growing epidemic in commonwealth and painted a grim picture of Kentuckians feeling increasingly unsafe in their communities.

"The simple truth is that the criminal element has become an all-too-normal part of our world today," he said at a press conference. "Kentuckians are fed up."

At the top of the list of proposed reforms is a new “three strikes law.”

"This provision will require life in prison without the possibility of parole for any criminal who commits three violent felonies in our state," the lawmaker said.

But the sweeping bill goes far beyond that — expanding the death penalty for several types of crimes, including dealing in fentanyl, taking part in a deadly carjacking, or killing a police officer.

The bill would create a Kentucky State Police post in Jefferson County, an idea Gov. Andy Beshear has come out against.

It would also establish a wiretapping law for the state, allow for reform of the parole board, and ban camping on streets, sidewalks, or other areas normally used by the public.

Right now, the bill is still being hashed out ahead of next year’s General Assembly. While bills are often whittled down during legislative sessions, Bauman said lawmakers could also add provisions to the Safer Kentucky Act as it moves through the process.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.