Watkins Proposes Revisions in Who is Jailed in KY
By Donna Groves
FRANKFORT, KY - Freshman KY Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah says he wants to clean out KY jails of "people who don't really need to be there" to make more room for those who do.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Watkins has filed five bills dealing with crime and punishment.
"I think for personal possession of any type of illicit drug, my bill would make it a misdemeanor charge. And a sentence would be mandatory treatment, and the faith-based community could be one of those options for treatment, and community service," Watkins said. Also, he said his proposal would raise the dollar value at which a theft becomes a felony from $500 to $1,000."
"If you put those two together, it would clear the prisons out of a lot of people who don't need to be there and that would make room for the violent offenders who do need to be there," Watkins said.
Another of Watkins' proposals is a so-called "Three Strikes and You're Out" measure, meaning that once a person is convicted of a third independent Class A or Class B felony, the sentence is automatically life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
He also is proposing that felonies for independent crimes be served consecutively rather than concurrently.
Another measure would give the victim or a surviving family member of a victim the right to appeal to the governor once the Kentucky Parole Board decides to parole someone from prison. The governor would then have 30 days in which to decide whether or not to veto the Parole Board's decision.