Lt. Governor Stephen B.Pence's Communication Office
Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence, Representatives Joni Jenkins, Bob Damron, and Stan Lee, and Senators Julie Denton and Elizabeth Tori champion legislation to strengthen Kentucky’s sexual offender laws and open juvenile court proceedings
House Bill 3 and House Bill 436 receive bipartisan support
Frankfort, KY: Governor Ernie Fletcher and Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence joined leaders of the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate today to publicly present legislation that will strengthen the commonwealth’s current laws regarding sexual predators and open some proceedings in juvenile court. House Bill 3 is sponsored by Representatives Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville) and Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville). House Bill 436 is sponsored by Damron and Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington). Senator Julie Denton (R-Louisville) and Senator Elizabeth Tori (R- Radcliff), who for years have sponsored other legislation dealing with these issues, will carry the bills in the Senate.
“Today marks a significant milestone in a process that will conclude with more stringent laws to protect the most vulnerable members of our society: our children,” said Lieutenant Governor Pence. “We do not want to have to name a law after a child who suffered and died at the hands of a predator. I thank Rep. Jenkins for all her hard work on this issue for the past several years. I commend Sen. Denton, Sen. Tori, Chairman Damron, Rep. Lee, and all the other legislators who support these bills, for helping us reach this point. I look forward to working with them to achieve the goal of making these bills binding law.”
The legislation is based on a review of Kentucky's sexual offender laws by Rep. Jenkins as well as recommendations presented to the Lieutenant Governor in November by the Kentucky Coalition Against Sexual Assaults (KCASA). Lt. Governor Pence spearheaded KCASA and tasked it with studying the weaknesses of Kentucky’s sex offender laws and abuses in the juvenile court system. The coalition held public meetings across the state and gathered opinions from judges, prosecutors, legislators, victim advocates, defense attorneys, and concerned citizens before drafting the recommendations.
"Our commitment to Kentucky families means we must protect those who can't protect themselves and be the voice for those who are too young to speak. We will not allow sex offenders to continue preying upon innocent children", said Rep. Jenkins.
Sen. Denton added, “Our primary goal is the safety and protection of the citizens of the Commonwealth, especially the children. I thank the Lt Governor for his efforts and look forward to working with his office and my colleagues in the Senate to ensure we have the strongest legislation possible.”
The proposals in House Bill 3 include:
Stronger enforcement/compliance of the sex offender registration system;
Requirement of notification of sexual offender status on drivers’ licenses;
Allows victims of sexual assaults to file a civil action against their perpetrator without a statute of limitations;
Opportunity for the courts to consider electric monitoring and home incarceration during a sex offender’s pre-trial release;
Provision to make possession of child pornography a felony;
Sentence of life without possibility of parole for persistent felony sex offenders
“I commend the Lt Governor and the task force for comprehensively tackling the heinous crimes of sexual predators. Tough legislation to enhance tracking and notification procedures is necessary to protect Kentucky's children, families, and all the people of Kentucky,” said Sen. Tori.
In addition to House Bill 3, Rep. Damron and Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) filed a separate bill pertaining to juvenile felony records. House Bill 436, which is based on existing law, will open select juvenile court proceedings for public scrutiny. The cases that will be open to the public only involve those that are committed by juveniles older than 12. These crimes involve the most heinous offenses against another, and pose the greatest risk to public safety, such as:
Felony sexual assaults
Felony physical assaults
Offenses in which a weapon is used
“This bill deals with violent offenses committed by dangerous persons,” said Lieutenant Governor Pence.
The vast majority of juvenile criminal offenses will remain closed. House Bill 436 was based on recommendations proposed by KCASA and modeled after other states’ laws, such as Indiana.
“While an overwhelming majority of states have opened records pertaining to minors, juvenile proceedings in Kentucky have remained shrouded in secrecy,” continued Lieutenant Governor Pence. “Just because a criminal is under the age of 18 doesn’t make the crime any less serious. Our sympathy needs to be with the victims, not the perpetrators.”
"This legislation brings us one step closer to making Kentucky a safer place to live, work and raise a family by allowing us to protect our neighborhoods and communities," said Rep. Stan Lee "If we're going to be effective at fighting crime, we have to recognize that those who commit the most heinous crimes need to be held accountable for their actions."
Governor Ernie Fletcher applauded the Lieutenant Governor and the legislators for taking the initiative to tackle this important issue.
"I commend the Lt. Governor, the Kentucky Coalition Against Sexual Abuse, Rep. Jenkins and the others involved for their diligent efforts on this legislation," said Governor Fletcher. "Doing the best we can to keep our children safe is an issue important to us all. This legislation puts appropriate focus on one of the key issues confronting our state and nation today."
House Bills 3 and 436 will now go to House Judiciary Committee for hearing.
“I encourage the public to contact their legislators and show their support for this vital legislation,” concluded Lieutenant Governor Pence.