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.