Louisville group concerned new gang law targets minorities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new law that takes aim at gangs in Kentucky has some concerned about what it could mean for minorities and the poor.

The law, signed Thursday, would make it a felony to recruit young gang members and increases penalties for gang activity. In some cases, it would raise charges to a higher felony class.

Lyndon Pryor with The Louisville Urban League is concerned the law will disproportionately affect minorities.

“Individuals end up with felony charges on their record that are really just difficult to get rid of,” Pryor said.

Republican Rep. Kevin Bratcher, the Majority Whip, supports the law and believes the increased penalties will discourage people from joining gangs.     

"I don't want to dismiss their concerns but I don't think they're warranted at this time. I believe we're going after whoever is in a gang or a syndicate," Bratcher said.   

The representative sees the law as a way to protect the community from criminals returning to the streets.

"One of the major things is that you have to serve 85 percent of what your sentence is so there's no more shock probation or getting out early on parole," Bratcher said.

Critics worry the definition of a gang is too broad under the law and unfairly targets people who were never in one. 

"It means that those barriers are steeper and actually getting them back integrated into society as normal productive citizens becomes that much harder," Pryor said.

The Louisville Urban League wants the law repealed.

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