House Panel Passes Gang Recruitment Measure

Feb 8, 2018

Testimony on Gang Recruitment Bill Feb 7th at State Capitol
Credit Stu Johnson

Legislation focusing on slowing gang recruitment across Kentucky got widespread support in a House committee Wednesday.  It calls for tougher penalties and longer sentences for those convicted of crimes tied to gangs.

Lexington Representative Robert Benvenuti calls gang-related activities the “most critical public protection issue facing the state today.”  Todd Phillips works in Lexington’s police gang unit. “It allows us to have the opportunity to have something with more teeth when we go after those gang members that are the most serious and most involved,” said Phillips

Phillips says faith-based and other support groups can still intervene with lower level gang members, in hopes of seeing them through to gang free lives.  Still, Eddie Woods of Louisville, who’s helped street kids for three decades, worries the legislation is too far reaching.
“The wide net and the stringent 85 percent. Man, that’s going to eat a lot of folks alive and it’s going to destroy a lot of families,” noted Woods.

The measure calls for those convicted of gang related crimes to serve 85 percent of their sentences.