crime

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Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton Jr. says the number of expungement requests have doubled since a new law went into effect allowing some convicted felons to clear their records.

Minton told lawmakers during his annual State of the Judiciary address that the Administrative Office of the Courts has received 8,400 criminal record reports for expungement since the law went into effect on July 15. He said that number is about double the number of requests at this time last year.

Minton said the number includes requests for misdemeanors and felonies, adding officials cannot separate the two categories. But he attributes the increase in requests to the passage of the expungement bill.

HB.40 allows people convicted of certain non-violent felonies to clear their records if they have no other pending charges.

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A new poll shows Kentuckians overwhelmingly support prison time over capital punishment for people convicted of first-degree murder.

Findings from a recent poll by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center show nearly 58 percent of people surveyed believe that lengthy prison terms, including life without parole, are preferable to the death penalty as punishment for conviction of first-degree murder.

Kentuckians also overwhelmingly support a halt to executions until problems with the state’s capital punishment system are addressed, according to the survey. More than 72 percent said they would support a decision by the governor to block executions until issues with the system could be addressed.

“It is important to note that this new poll shows that Kentuckians are increasingly concerned about the fairness of our criminal justice system,” said Marcia Milby Ridings, former president of the Kentucky Bar Association, in a news release.

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Kentucky law enforcement would have to follow new guidelines while conducting suspect lineups under a bill proposed in the General Assembly.

The legislation would tweak police procedure to try and prevent a witness’ memory of a suspect or incident from being “contaminated” by suggestion.

Jennifer Thompson, a rape survivor who misidentified her perpetrator in 1984, said it’s easy to misremember events.

“We don’t record things the way we think we record them. Our brains are so malleable, they’re so prone to suggestion. It isn’t hard to plant false information into a person’s memory,” Thompson said.

“We do it all the time, either innocently or intentionally.”

The bill would require police departments to follow four new guidelines:

Twenty years ago this week, in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed a crime bill. It was, in effect, a long-term experiment in various ways to fight crime.

The measure paid to put more cops on the beat, trained police and lawyers to investigate domestic violence, imposed tougher prison sentences and provided money for extra prisons.

Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is partnering with a Democratic colleague to help low-level offenders wipe their criminal records clean. Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green and Cory Booker of New Jersey plan to introduce legislation that would encourage states to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

The bi-partisan effort is being called the REDEEM Act, and would automatically expunge the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes before they turn 15 and would automatically seal the records of those who commit them after.

The bill would also create a broad-based federal path for sealing criminal record for adults, with non-violent offenders able to petition courts to make their case.  

Paul is considering a run for the White House in 2016, and a new Quinnipiac University poll shows the Kentucky Senator narrowly leading his potential GOP rivals with 11 percent ofthe vote. That’s just ahead of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who had the support of 10 percent of respondents.

“The Cost of Crime,” a new study by a Centre College professor, quantifies the burden of crime by estimating the annual cost of crime in the United States. Many studies measure crime by looking at raw numbers of thefts, murders and other criminal activities. David A. Anderson, Centre College’s Paul G. Blazer Professor of Economics, warns that these numbers can be misleading, especially when the number of crimes goes in one direction while the severity of crimes goes in the other.