Ray: Hello crime-fighters, I’m Ray the D.A. and this is Straight Talk. I’m here today with Amber Freeman, and Amber I want to talk a little today about sentencing.
Amber: Let’s do it.
Ray: What’s the purpose of sentencing you think?
Amber: You’re talking about, what kind of crime?
Ray: Well,let’s say a violent crime.
Amber: Ok, which would be assault…
Ray: Armed robbery, murder, that sort of thing. And those are punished more severely than like breaking into a car, burglary, that sort of thing. The sentencing philosophy in
Kentucky is to try and avoid incarceration. And the reason they do that is that basically they want to save money. Now most citizens, when they’re asked in these polls or surveys, what’s the most significant job of the government. They’re either going to say to guarantee our, the public’s safety, as one or number two on their list. And I don’t think that we’re running into that by our judges. In Lexington for example, 53 percent of felons that go through Fayette County Court are probated.
Amber: And what does that mean exactly?
Ray: It means they’re put right back on the street. So the question is how well are they supervised, because they want to talk about supervision in the community, how well are they supervised. I don’t think they are paying the probation parole officers sufficiently to keep with them, I think that they have to report to a probation officer once a month and typically they do it by telephone one or two times a month.
Amber: What about do they still wear the ankle bracelets, or whatever people think that still includes?
Ray: Well, when they put people on electronic monitoring or ankle bracelets, the question is, do they actually monitor them? Because it costs money to monitor these people, we have the capability of keeping them in an inclusion zone or excluding them from someplace and if they violate that we know, but that costs money and so that’s not as prominent a practice as we’d like.
Amber: Well Ray, let’s back it up, when it actually comes to sentencing, who decides how long the criminal is going to be incarcerated, is that the judge? Is that a deal made by the attorneys? Who decides that?
Ray: Everybody. For example if I recommended a ten year sentence for you, and you were sentenced to ten years for a non violant crime, you’d be eligible for parole in two years, if you participate in programs in the prison system then you can reduce that even more. But, that gets away from public safety.
Amber: So how many of these people who should be in prison in your opinion, are actually there…what is the percentage of time that they’re spending of their sentence, compared to being let out on probation?
Ray: well that’s too complicated a question, really, because you have people who are probated and never sent to prison, you have people who are sent and are paroled, you got people that serve out. I don’t know if you can come up with an average. All I know I that I don’t think that our legislature is looking at it from the right angle. You have to look at it from the safety of the public as opposed to the benefit of the criminals.
Amber: Ok, well this is obviously a very, very, very complicated matter. Do you any solutions to it?
Ray: Sure, I think we ought to abolish parole, the federal government has, and the state of Virginia has, and go from there.
Amber: Alright, well there’s obviously so many different routes that we could go and I’m sure we’ll explore this in more of our segments in the future because it is something, as you said, people are concerned about.
Ray: Well, we’ll see. See you later crime-fighters.