Senate passes bill to examine state child abuse sentences

The Senate approved legislation on Thursday that was introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to require the Department of Justice to issue a report on penalties for child abuse in each state.

The Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act mirrors legislation approved by the House of Representatives.

“The Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act of 2013 will help ensure the care and protection of our children and help address abuse in each of our states,” Burr said. “I only regret Kilah did not survive to see her issue championed – God bless her and her family.”

Kilah Davenport, a three-year-old girl from North Carolina who was abused by her stepfather, inspired the bill. A portion of her skull was removed as a result of the abuse, but her stepfather’s maximum sentence under state law was less than eight years in prison.

In addition to requiring the DoJ to report on sentences for child abuse in each state, the measure would add an additional layer of punishment for some individuals who are arrested for domestic abuse after a previous child abuse conviction. Previous child abuse charges would lead to criminal charges for habitual domestic assault offenders in cases that the federal government has jurisdiction over.

The measure will advance to President Obama for consideration.