KFTC Blog

Youth Incarceration bill bad for Kentucky

Posted by: Ebeth Adami on April 20, 2018

KFTC’s vision statement reads:

We are working for a day when Kentuckians – and all people – enjoy a better quality of life…When all people have health care, shelter, food, education, and other basic needs…When children are listened to and valued…When discrimination is wiped out of our laws, habits, and hearts.

Kentucky legislators made many decisions that stand in the way of our vision during the 2018 General Assembly. Among them was the passage of House Bill 169, the "Youth Incarceration Bill." 

 HB 169 received final approval by the House and Senate on April 13. At the time this newsletter went to print, there was still an opportunity for Governor Bevin to veto the bill.

The bill expands the definition of gang membership, and mandates harsh sentences, even for misdemeanors, if one is part of a gang under a new, broad definition. The details of the bill are here. 

 

KFTC’s Platform states that:

We oppose the inappropriate use of police powers, the expansion and privatization of the prison system, and the use of excessive force by police, including the targeting and killing of African Americans and other people of color… We call for an immediate end to the mass incarceration of African Americans and other people of color, and the practices by which mass incarceration is currently implemented.

HB 169 would be a practice by which mass incarceration is implemented. The bill would destroy the futures of young Kentuckians and perpetuate racial profiling and mass incarceration.

Similar laws in other states proved ineffective at making communities safer. And they continued the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown folks, separating people from their families and destabilizing communities.

In Mississippi, the Jackson Free Press reported that only Black suspects had been prosecuted under a similar law from 2010 through 2017, despite the prevalence of white gangs in the state. Yet the Kentucky Senate rejected an amendment to add a racial impact study to the bill.

“HB169 is not only dangerous for Black and Brown young people as a pro-incarceration bill, it's dangerous because the very essence is reversing decades of work that many Black and Brown people fought against” Chanelle Helm of Louisville Black Lives Matter said. “Systemic racism is real and at the seat of a large regression of laws aimed at mass incarceration of Black folks and the deportation of indigenous Brown folks. Solidarity and fighting for social justice is fighting for justice for us all.”

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy reported that, “research shows such an approach does not reduce violent crime, could intensify gang activity and would likely disproportionately lead to the incarceration of persons of color for long periods of time.” KCEP’s fact sheet on the bill is at http://bit.ly/kcephb169.

To make communities safer, those dollars are better spent on education, affordable housing, mental health care, job training, and other services that prevent violence and help people thrive, numerous people pointed out.

State Representative Attica Scott said,“We are neither preventing gang violence nor addressing the root causes of gang affiliation with this measure. Young people who will be targeted by this bill have experienced almost all of the adverse childhood experiences that call us to support trauma-informed measures. Instead of taxpayers funding this $19,514,900 bill, we could fully fund public education, we could reinstate the $2 million that were cut from public libraries, we could fund teenage parenting programs, we could raise the minimum wage for families that are living paycheck-to-paycheck where kids feel like they have to go out and be breadwinners.”

KFTC members, especially in Lexington and Louisville, were called on by Black leaders and people of color-led organizations to stand in solidarity against the racist bill. Chapters and members used texts, emails, phone calls, and social media to grow opposition to HB 169. Members had lobby meetings, attended and testified at committee meetings, and worked with allies to organize transportation to Frankfort. 

During the public workers’ rally on April 13, Jefferson County chapter members handed out stickers that read, “Fund education, not incarceration.” They had conversations with teachers and public workers in line for shuttles about the intersection and connection of legislators voting to fund HB 169 while they were cutting funding for important services.

Rep. Scott pointed out on Twitter that grassroots opposition to the measure held legislators accountable and pressured many into changing their position since a similar bill was filed in the House during the 2017 General Assembly:

“Y'all. In 2017, only 3 no votes. In 2018 on the first vote, 17 no votes. Today, 30 no votes. People power across Kentucky did this despite the bill passing. Thank you to Kentuckians for standing in solidarity. #kyga18”

What opportunities exist today to sharpen our skills, strengthen our ally relationships, and build the grassroots power it will take to reverse the harm done by HB 169- and move closer to our vision and justice for all- during the 2019 General Assembly?

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Let's shift the political landscape: support Action for Democracy

Posted by: By Meta Mendel-Reyes, KFTC Chairperson on April 19, 2018

I was proud to join other Kentuckians in Frankfort on April 13 with my KFTC sweatshir

Anti-rooftop solar bill defeated in final hour of 2018 Kentucky General Assembly

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on April 17, 2018

In one of its final legislatives moves before adjourning on April 14, the Kentucky Senate tabled a vote on House Bill 227, the anti-rooftop solar bill pushed by utilities.

NKU rally for higher education

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on April 12, 2018

Thursday afternoon hundreds gathered at Northern Kentucky University to speak out for more revenue, and to ask legislators to honor the commitments we have made to students across Kentucky.

The crowd began to gather before noon. Members of the broader community included KFTC, the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers, and the Northern Kentucky Justice and Peace Committe. However, the majority in attendance were students and faculty who were most likely to be impacted by the new state budget. Many came with signs illustrating issues impacting the NKU community. From rising costs of tuition, a tax structure that hurts lower and middle income Kentuckians, and what the impact of further cuts could mean to universities across the state.

Power House Workshops are here!

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on April 11, 2018

In April KFTC members launched the Power House Project, an exciting effort to build New Power in every sense of the word: new economic power, new clean energy power, and new politi

KFTC chapter annual meeting season begins soon

Posted by: Carissa Lenfert on April 10, 2018

Every year KFTC's local chapters hold a chapter annual business meeting. All KFTC members in the chapter are invited and encouraged to participate to elect new local leadership, nominate themselves and others to statewide committees, set local priorties and goals, and make suggestions for KFTC's statewide platform. These meetings are fundamental pieces of KFTC's democratic and grassroots process. We hope to see you at your local chapter annual meeting. Full list below!

Scott County Residents Stop Landfill!

Scott County residents filled the Fiscal Court chambers!
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on April 9, 2018

Since last January Scott County members have been working with others in the community to stop a proposed expansion of the landfill in the north end of the county.

NKY Members Support Immigrant Rights

Two DACA students who shared their stories, and described how the immigration system impacts families
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on April 8, 2018

Northern Kentucky members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth showed up to support ongoing work around immigrant rights in northern Kentucky.

A community conversation with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Posted by: KFTC Staff on April 6, 2018

2018 0329 PPCNCMR Benham KY stevepavey (40 of 43)On March 29, nearly a 150 people from across Kentucky and central Appalachia gathered in Harlan County for a community conversation with each other and with Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, as part of the national listening tour of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Political powers showed their worst; we work to build the best

Posted by: KFTC staff on April 5, 2018

KFTC works for an open, healthy democracy and a high quality of life for all people. In recent days we witnessed some of the best examples of democratic participation and the worst examples of political manipulation. As legislators passed bills that undermine our democratic values and sense of basic fairness, Kentuckians stood up on the steps of the capitol and across the state to demonstrate the grassroots power at the heart of democracy.

As we move forward in this fight, it’s important that we stand together. We are working for a Kentucky that we haven’t yet achieved, where politicians don’t have the power to divide us. By being part of a movement that is inclusive and builds off the strength that we have when we work together, we can create such a Kentucky.

Steering Committee discusses legislature and organizing in eastern Kentucky

Posted by: KFTC staff on April 4, 2018

The KFTC Steering Committee met in Berea at the end of March to discuss the 2018 General Assembly session and KFTC’s organizing and Just Transition work in eastern Kentucky.

As the meeting was called to order, Steering Committee members revisited key questions that members asked during a leadership summit immediately following the 2016 elections: “what happened, why, and what’s next?” The Steering Committee revisited these same questions as they apply to the 2018 General Assembly session, emphasizing the longer term trajectory that lead to the legislative actions taken at the end of March.

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