Help stop the “Youth Incarceration Bill”

UPDATED: March 28, 2018

Right now is a key moment for a piece of legislation that would negatively impact Black and Brown young people in Kentucky.

House Bill 169, the "Youth Incarceration Bill," passed the House on March 15 and Senate leaders were quick to take parlimentary maneuvers to fast-track the bill for passage. Then on March 27, after compelling testimony on why and how the state could invest in programs to prevent gang violence, the Senate Judiciary Committee instead voted to pass HB 169 and support locking up more young people, and for longer.

This bill does not make Kentuckians safer, but it would cost taxpayers an additional $19 million a year, and lead to even higher levels of youth incarceration, especially among youth of color. The bill would:

  • Expand the definition of a gang membership.
  • Require more severe sentences and harsher charges for anyone who fits the newly expanded definition of gang membership, without judicial discretion.
  • Make the penalties for gang recruitment more severe.

Here’s what you can do to stop it.

1) Call the 800-372-7181 legislative message line right now and ask to leave a message for "my senator and all senators."  Tell them to “Vote NO on HB 169.” Tell them the bill adds to the over-incarceration of people of color. You can also send email messages to all senators through www.lrc.ky.gov.

2) Ask 5 people you know to do the same. 

3) Join KFTC members in Frankfort tomorrow, March 22, and next Tuesday, March 27 for lobby days. Tomorrow we're meeting in the cafeteria at 9:00. On Tuesday, March 27 we're meeting in Room 113 at 9:00. Let us know if you plan to join in!

4) If you can't make it to Frankfort, ask your senators to meet with you over the weekend. Meet them for coffee, and bring friends with you.

5) If you're in Jefferson County, come to a phonebank at the ACLU Office at 315 Guthrie St.

  • Friday, March 23rd from 4:00-7:00
  • Monday, March 26th from 4:00-7:00

It is crucially important that we stop this bill.

In KFTC’s Platform, we state 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.

House Bill 169, the “Youth Incarceration Bill” would be one of those practices by which mass incarceration is implemented.

Taking steps to reduce violence in our communities is vitally important. However, HB 169 focuses on a strictly punitive approach that will not lead to safer communities. It will lead to further over-incarceration of people of color, young people, and poor people in our state.

As State Representative Attica Scott put it:

“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.”

For more information about the Youth Incarceration bill, check out: