Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky House unveiled a three-strikes measure on Tuesday that would keep people locked up after being convicted of a third violent felony.

The proposal is part of a broader anti-crime bill designated as a priority for Republicans in the 60-day session. The measure surfaced during the second week of the session after lawmakers spent months meeting with stakeholders and tinkering with many of the provisions.

“This bill is about putting people who are going to continue to commit crime, getting them off our streets,” said Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, among the bill’s leading supporters.


The proposal would result in life in prison without the possibility of parole for those who commit three violent felonies in Kentucky, GOP Rep. Jared Bauman, a lead sponsor of the bill, told reporters.

Crime was a central issue in last year’s gubernatorial campaign, won by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. Both candidates offered public safety plans.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky criticized the three-strikes measure, with Kungu Njuguna, a policy analyst for the group saying that “criminalization penalties don’t make us safe.”

Njuguna pointed to already-high incarceration rates in Kentucky and said a better strategy for improving public safety is to invest more in mental health and substance use treatment, affordable housing, transportation and education.

“We need to get at the root causes of what get people into the criminal legal system and prevent them from getting into the system,” Njuguna told reporters.