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54 U. Louisville L. Rev. Online 1 (2015)
The Kentucky Penal Code: Forty Years of Unresolved Tension and Conflict Between Sentencing Philosophies
Ernie Lewis and Dan Goyette*
Both of the authors of this article have practiced law as public defenders throughout the era following the passage of the Kentucky Penal Code by the General Assembly, which became effective on January 1, 1975. Many of the observations that follow are their opinions, borne of this experience. It is a story of mostly good people trying to do the right thing, often succeeding, sometimes failing, always trying again. It is also a story of a model code subjected to the vagaries of the political process over the course of the ensuing forty years, and the failure of the legislative branch to agree on basic principles. The end result has been a Code that in many ways bears little resemblance to the design, spirit and intent of the one enacted in 1974, one with which few are currently satisfied, and even fewer motivated or able to marshal the political will to form the consensus necessary to address and remedy the problems that have developed, particularly in the area of sentencing.
* Ernie Lewis is the Executive Director for the National Association for Public Defense. Dan Goyette is the Executive Director and Chief Public Defender for the Metro Louisville Public Defender’s Office.