Lexington Prosecutor Believes Sentencing Changes Fall Short

Jun 5, 2014

Credit archive.courier-journal.com

Fayette County's head prosecutor says many offenders are not concerned with criminal charges, but rather the possibility of being housed in prison or jail.  Veteran Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson is reacting to a Pew Charitable Trusts' study this week on the effect of sentencing changes approved three years ago. 

Larson says the threat of jail time is a deterrent.  "If they think that they're gonna get charged with a felony, they don't care about that part because most of them already have felonies.  Another felony is not gonna bother them.  What they're worried about is the concept of maybe I'll be incarcerated," said Larson.

Larson says 175 repeat felony offenders have come through Fayette Circuit Court so far this year.  He says they account for three thousand prior criminal convictions.  

The study by Pew released this week indicates mandatory re-entry supervision can help reduce recidivism and save dollars through fewer prison beds.  

Larson says many police and crime victims feel certain penalties are not tough enough. "If somebody breaks into your car, and the police catch them, they're gonna give them a ticket.  Not gonna arrest them.  Gonna give them a ticket.  The police are very frustrated.  The victims I deal with are very frustrated," added Larson.

Larson says his office's review shows some 65 percent of people charged with felony crimes in Fayette Circuit Court are probated.  He says over 50 percent are re-probated.​