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Kenton Co. Prosecutor on Prostitution: Police Are Handcuffed

The River City News offers this feature each week in which Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders shares his This Week in Kenton Co. Circuit Court which recaps all of the week's convictions and he also answers some questions about This Week or other general crime issues of interest.

RCN: You saw the story about prostitution as a growing problem in Mainstrasse. The police chief said the increase in that crime is likely directly related to heroin use. Additionally, he added that arresting folks for prostitution can only be done as a charge of "loitering for prostitution purposes" and that jail time can be as short as half an hour. Do you think the penalties need to be tougher to help curb this growing problem?

SANDERS: The problem is not the penalties for prostitution.  The problem is that House Bill 463 has handcuffed police instead of criminals.  The obvious goal of HB463 is to reduce the costs of incarceration by not arresting criminals, but the legislature failed to appreciate the negative impact on the quality of life in communities plagued by these problems.   Most legislators don't live in neighborhoods with prostitutes walking the streets or junkies shooting up in the alley so they don't see the impact of ordering police to hand criminals a citation and let them go.  Covington Police have, in essence, seized on a loophole in the law that allows them to arrest for a "violation" (loitering for prostitution) but not for a misdemeanor (prostitution), even though the misdemeanor is the more serious charge.  I applaud them for their creativity.  Still, a violation doesn't keep someone in jail long and they're back out in hours, if not minutes.  Covington's city leaders need to step up and lobby for a change in the law to help their police because it was organizations like the League of Cities and KACo that were asking for a reduction in jail costs that resulted in these facets of HB463.  Like many things coming out of Frankfort these days, it may save a few tax dollars but at what cost to crime victims?!

RCN: Alvin McDaniel only got 25 years out of a possible 40 for shooting a man in Covington. Were you disappointed that he did not receive the full jury-recommended sentence?

SANDERS: Yes, very.  A jury of 12 Kenton County citizens thought 40 years was appropriate and I think justice calls for respecting the jury's verdict.  Covington's Eastside has also seen more than its fair share of violence and reducing sentences on thugs who shoot up neighborhoods full of kids does nothing to help solve the problems.  Nevertheless, the judge and I have different roles in the criminal justice system.  I assume he had his reasons.  I respect his opinion but disagree with his decision.

RCN:  The story of cab driver-rapist Mohamud Abkubar is really quite scary. Is there anything people can learn from this case as it relates to maintaining awareness after a night out?

SANDERS: I was surprised the jury only gave this guy 12 years because of how shocking the entire scenario was.  Any rape is certainly horrific but this one is even worse because the couple was doing the right thing by not driving drunk.  The lesson from this case is that drinking to excess compromises your safety in more ways that one.  Obviously its not safe to drive, but it also increases your risk of becoming a crime victim.  Criminals look for opportunities to prey on the weak.  Alcohol makes victims out of otherwise unlikely targets because it reduces your ability to fight back.  If you're leaving a bar, you've probably been drinking, and criminals know it.  If they see you're impaired, they know their chances of success are greater.  We see this most often in robbery and sexual assault cases.

To read more about the taxi driver rapist, the Eastside shooter, and to see the mugshots of all the folks convicted in Kenton County last week, click the link below.

This Week in Kenton Co. Circuit Court

PHOTO: Mohamud Abukar