Sex crime statute, felon transition measures approved by House
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Holding sexual predators accountable for their crimes is the goal of HB 472, which would extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses in criminal and civil cases, allowing more time for victims to report the crime.
Friday, the measure, sponsored by state Rep. Lynn Bechler of Marion, cleared the state House.
“As society has come to understand more about the physical, emotional and psychological effects of sexual abuse, we need to acknowledge these effects as reasons why the victim may not immediately report the crime,” Bechler said. “Our laws need to evolve as our understanding of these crimes and their effect evolve.”
Bechler referred to the increased understanding of how abuse victims cope with the trauma associated with sexual abuse as multiple studies show that most children who experience sexual abuse do not disclose it, or significantly delay reporting it.
Because of the existing statute of limitations on these crimes, this often leaves many adult victims of childhood sexual abuse without recourse. HB 472 will extend the criminal statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses against minors from 5 to 10 years, which gives the victims more time to seek justice for these crimes.
“Sexual abuse of any kind is abhorrent, but sexual abuse of minors is incomprehensible,” Bechler said. “My goal in introducing this measure is to help the victims and to hold perpetrators accountable.”
HB 472 will go to the Senate.
In another matter Friday, the House passed a bill to provide former inmates the tools they need to successfully reintegrate into society upon their release and end the cycle of relapse and recidivism. This measure is sponsored by Representative Kim Moser of Taylor Mill.
“This legislation seeks to encourage individuals to gain the skills and education necessary to enter the workforce and reintegrate into society successfully,” Moser said. “Incarcerated individuals are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, parents and valued members of their families; they are often times people who have lived with trauma, substance abuse disorders, and for many reasons they lack the skills necessary to function as a productive member of society.”
Under the provisions of HB 497, the Department of Corrections (DOC) will be required to issue released prisoners documentation of their criminal history, institutional history, or other relevant information.
The DOC will also give inmates a certificate of employability upon their release and will be required to report the number of certificates provided to inmates.
HB 497 also provides limited liability protections to employers to help incentivize them to become second chance employer and give former inmates the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families upon release from prison.
In addition, this measure will help eliminate the abrupt ending of medical coverage upon release, by including Medicaid coverage for individuals in the last thirty days of incarceration. This coverage is typically used for for things like drug treatment, and mental health care.
Lastly, this measure removes the ban on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for felons, which will help reduce the financial burden for single parents who must provide for dependent children.
“Some may classify this as a ‘feel good’ bill, but I want to be clear that we are eliminating barriers to employment so that people who have served their time can once again contribute to our society. This legislation is a necessary step in helping individuals get back on their feet and end the cycle of relapse and recidivism as a way of life,” Moser added. “It would also save counties and cities untold millions of taxpayer dollars by strengthening how our corrections system works.”
HB 497 will go to the Senate.