Stronger child abuse sentencing will see Senate vote

Stronger child abuse sentencing will see Senate vote

by
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 25, 2010
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
Author Image
February 25, 2010

A proposal to double the maximum sentence for felony injury to a child from 10 to 20 years in prison was approved by a Senate panel Wednesday. It now faces a vote by the full Senate. Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, began working on the proposal after hearing about the case of Kyra Wine, a 3-year-old girl in northern Idaho who was abused by her mother’s boyfriend last June. During a Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee Wednesday, Broadsword said another case involving a 2-month-old girl whose leg was broken, reported by the Spokesman-Review, is another example of why penalties should be strengthened.

“It gives our judges the ability to impose a longer sentence in situations where they warrant (it),” she said. “There are circumstances out there across the state that might warrant a longer sentence.” Broadsword added that the 20-year sentence isn’t mandatory, and that some offenders could be released early on parole. Some 176 offenders are in Idaho prisons on convictions of felony injury to a child and a third are serving maximum 10-year sentences, according to Broadsword’s legislation.

Holly Koole, a prosecutor with Ada County, said prosecutors across the state support the longer sentence. “It warrants a stiffer penalty when you have these horrible acts that are being done to children that cannot protect themselves,” she said.

No one on the committee voted against doubling the maximum sentence, though lawmakers did question Broadsword about the need for the change. “We don’t do very well when we make law because of a specific instance,” Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, said. Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, also asked why the state’s aggravated battery crime, which carries a similar sentence, wouldn’t suffice for prosecutors.

In addition to the longer sentence, the committee also approved changing state law to add felony abuse of a child to a list of crimes in the state Child Protective Act, so the Department of Health and Welfare could place a child in foster care rather than reunite him or her with a parent who inflicted the injury. Other crimes on that list include abandonment, manslaughter, and torture. Both pieces of legislation now face a full Senate vote. Read the text of the proposal to double prison sentences here and the proposal to add felony injury of a child to the Child Protective Act list here.

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