A proposal to increase the maximum sentence for felony child abuse in Idaho won’t become law this year. The Idaho Senate and House both passed proposals that would increase potential jail time for abusing a child, but lawmakers won’t settle the differences between the two plans this legislative session.
Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, proposed a measure to double the sentence from 10 to 20 years when a child is permanently disabled, disfigured, or suffers great bodily harm. The Idaho Senate approved her plan 33-0.
When the legislation shifted to the House, an amendment was added that dropped the maximum sentence down to 15 years and dropped the higher penalty for great bodily harm. Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, sponsored those changes to the plan. He said he took out the words “great bodily harm” to avoid confusion, because that term is mentioned earlier in the law with only a ten-year penalty. Hart said he also saw no evidence saying a 20-year sentence would be better than a 15-year sentence. The Idaho House voted 58-0 for the stricter penalty for child abuse with Hart’s amendment.
The legislation then headed back to the Senate, where Broadsword and the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee Wednesday rejected Hart’s amendment, thus ending the changes. Broadsword told IdahoReporter.com she’s fine with a 15-year prison, but wants that stiffer penalty to apply to people who inflict great bodily harm. She said that someone could beat a child to within an inch of his or her life, and could only receive a 10-year maximum sentence.