LANSING (WJRT) (5/2/2019) - A bipartisan slate of Michigan lawmakers is pushing legislation to create a registry of convicted child abusers.
The bills to create the registry are collected known as "Wyatt's Law," named after a 1-year-old baby boy who suffered Shaken Baby Syndrome at the hands of his father's girlfriend.
She had two past convictions for child abuse before Wyatt's incident, but the court handling his custody case could not track them. Wyatt's mother was petitioning for sole custody to protect him from the girlfriend at the time.
“Parents deserve to know who they are leaving their child with,” said State Rep. Kevin Hertel, a Democrat from St. Clair Shores who represents the community where this incident occurred. “With a searchable database, we can give other parents access to important information they should have. I believe this incident would never have happened had Wyatt’s mother been able to access the conviction information for free.”
State Rep. Vanessa Guerra, a Democrat from Saginaw, said the legislation will help prevent future child abuse incidents.
“If someone has stood trial and been convicted of child abuse, there need to be consequences,” she said. “We have to hold people accountable. No parent should ever be left feeling like they ‘should have done more.’”
Six legislators announced the package of bills on Thursday. State Sen. Dr. John Bizon, a Republican from Battle Creek, said the bipartisan support shows how crucial the bills are for protecting Michigan's most vulnerable citizens.
“Any parent or grandparent will tell you they use their intuition in making childcare decisions, and this registry helps give them peace of mind if something doesn’t seem right,” he said.