Wednesday, January 25, 2012

'Zachary's Law' passes House

The state House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday authored by Rep. Kevin Murphy that would increase the mandatory minimum sentence for defendants convicted of third-degree murder and causing the death of a child younger than 13.

"It is unacceptable that in theory, a person convicted of a sexual abuse crime, such as rape, could serve a longer sentence that someone convicted of third-degree murder. Creating a minimum threshold of time to serve for taking the life of a child, while still allowing for range at sentencing is the least we can do," said Murphy, D-Lackawanna.

The legislation would increase the mandatory minimum sentence from six years to 13 years,

Murphy originally introduced H.B. 601, known as "Zachary's Law," last session after being approached by former Lackawanna County resident Chrissy McLaughlin, whose one-year-old son Zachary was murdered at the hand of a child abuser in 2005.

"Zachary's Law makes the point that a child’s life must and should be worth much, much more. It sends the message that the murder of a child is evil – and there will be a price to pay for this heinous act," Murphy said.

Five children die each day in America from neglect or abuse. There are nearly 3 million cases reported each year. The Department of Justice says the number of abuse cases is actually three times higher, as most go unreported.

The measure moves to the state Senate for consideration.

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