FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – House Bill 263 is appropriately named “Kami’s Law” after a Kentuckian and child abuse survivor.
“Kami was a beautiful 9-month-old baby when her life was forever changed when the man responsible for her safety shook her so violently that she was clinically dead for 23 minutes,” Kiera Dunk, a 12-year-old friend of Kami’s, said. “Kami survived, but due to trauma only half of her brain remains.”
Kiera met with Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) to get House Bill 263 off the ground.
Currently, the Kentucky statute has first-degree criminal abuse as a Class C felony.
According to Kiera, those accused of first-degree criminal abuse are given an opportunity to accept plea deals to get lesser sentences. When that happens, those that plead guilty to a lesser sentence do not end up on Kentucky Caregiver Misconduct and Kentucky Child Abuse registries.
“One of the two reasons for bringing this (bill) is to make sure that raising (the penalty) or elevating it to the Class B level makes it a violent crime, which should be subject to registration,” Committee Chair Rep. Ed Massey said, adding that violent offenders are also required to serve at least 85% of his or her sentence.
According to Kiera, Kami’s abuser was sentenced to only five years in prison and was released from prison early.
“Kentucky has the highest child abuse rates in the nation,” Dunk said. “We need change.”
During deliberation of the bill, Rep. John Blanton (R-Salyersville), revealed data that showed there has been a 50% increase in children dying at caregivers’ hands in Kentucky over the last two years.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved HB 263.