WKYT Investigates: The revolving door for criminals

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - "A very small percentage of the criminals commit the vast majority of crime," said Ray Larson, Fayette County's top prosecutor.

Larson said those criminals are the winners of a "catch and release" stance, or soft approach, on crime from cost-conscious state lawmakers and judges.

An example: 32-year-old Cory Don Etherington is accused of murdering an 87-year-old man earlier this month. Etherington was out on probation when John Tully was attacked in his Lexington apartment.

"Last week, we indicted twelve persistent felony offenders. That group had a criminal record that involved 144 prior criminal convictions," Larson explained to WKYT. And he said last week wasn't out of the ordinary.

So far in 2014, the Fayette County Commonwealths Attorney's office has seen 224 persistent felony offenders. Together, they are responsible for more than 3,808 convictions.

"What's the message? The message to the public is crime pays," said Larson. "It seems very logical to me that when you have a repeat felony offender come through the court system you put them in prison. Why? Because the public pays a lot of taxes. They pay taxes believing that their public safety is taken care of."

Larson also credits the "catch and release" mentality with making it tougher for investigators needing tips and witnesses to step forward. "What we have to do is start kicking ass and taking names on repeat offenders. Put them in prison, they've earned it."

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