Bill to toughen sentences for gang crimes headed to Senate for vote

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - House Bill 315 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but not without concern from some.

Advocates and opponents of the bill agreed that gang violence is an issue in the Commonwealth, and needs to be addressed to help at-risk youth.

"Being promised a family, to replace, often times, a family they don't have. Or to stand in the shoes of a parent they don't have. But what that promise leads to, typically, is one or two things. Incarceration or the morgue," said Representative Robert Benvenuti, III.

Advocates including a group of law enforcement agents say a new proposal will help crack down on gang recruitment and serve harsher punishments to those who commit crimes for gang affiliations.

Opponents of the bill say it could trap young offenders, who were once recruited into gangs themselves, into a hopeless sentence.

Rebecca DiLoreto with Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said, "They'll have very little motivation in their own lives, to get engaged with programs in our prisons, and in fact, the programs won't even be available to them because they have 85% parole eligibility."

The bill also hopes to be able to increase sentences after a conviction if the government can prove the crime was committed to serving a gang's purpose.

House Bill 315 will now go on to the full Senate for further review.



 
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