Governor signs Kansas law allowing harsher penalties against child abusers

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TOPEKA — Under a new Kansas law, those found guilty of child abuse will face harsher penalties in line with other severe crimes.

House Bill 2508, signed into law Monday by Gov. Laura Kelly, amends the Kansas Criminal Code’s severity levels for the crime of child abuse and allows for more specific sentencing based on the severity of abuse.

“We owe it to our children to hold abusers accountable and any crime against our most vulnerable should be met with adequate punishment,” Kelly said. “This bill provides the needed updates for prosecutors to ensure victims of child abuse are granted the same justice as victims of other serious crimes.”

The new law passed the House without opposition and only received two no votes in the Senate.

Under the law, penalties for child abuse range from a severity level 3 felony to a severity level 6 felony depending on the age of the child and the type of abuse inflicted.

Rep. Fred Patton, R-Topeka, touted the measure as a collaborative effort between law enforcement, prosecutors and other stakeholders to improve this area of the criminal justice system.

“The bill makes several key improvements to our justice system, including increasing penalties for those who cause harm to our most vulnerable Kansans, our children,” Patton said.

In addition to the amended child abuse penalties, the governor also approved laws allowing the consumption of alcohol on state fairgrounds and restricting lawsuit advertising practices. Also approved was a measure creating the Kansas Cotton Boll Weevil Program.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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