Senate Passes Nixzmary's Law

Thomas P. Morahan

February 08, 2006

Senator Thomas P. Morahan announced Senate passage ofa comprehensive package of legislation, including "Nixzmary’s Law," that would further protect children from abusers. The Senate also acted on legislation to make much needed reforms to child protection services in order to ensure that caseworkers have the proper resources to identify child abuse and neglect.

"The legislation we passedwould close a loophole that allows violent child abusers to escape life without parole when they cause the death of a child, will increase penalties for those who jeopardize the health and well-being of children and will also make commonsense reforms to child protection agencies to provide them with the resources they need to ensure that our children are kept safe and protected," said Morahan .

The Senate passed "Nixzmary’s Law," which requires a sentence of life without parole for parents or guardians who kill a child.

The bill is named for Nixzmary Brown, a seven year old Brooklyn girl who was brutally beaten and left for dead last month. Her mother and stepfather have been charged with her murder. Just last week, Quachon Brown, a four year old boy was found dead in a squalid apartment in the Bronx, beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend. The deaths are the latest in a string of tragic deaths of children from families who were under investigation.

This legislation would create the crime of aggravated murder of a child and mandate a sentence of life without parole for the parent, guardian or other person in a position of trust, who abuses and tortures a child under the age of 14, causing the death of the child or intentionally causes the death of a child.

Existing law mandates the sentence of life without parole for the death of a child less than 14 years of age only in those cases when a person 18 years of age or more commits the crime while committing a felony sex crime against the child. In all other cases, a person who tortures and abuses a child, causing the child’s death, or intentionally causes the death of a child, can be paroled after serving a minimum term, no matter how horrific the crime.

The Senate also passed legislation that would establish the crimes of endangering the welfare of a child in the first and second degrees, a class E felony and a class A misdemeanor, respectively.

The Senate also acted on several bills that would improve the child protection system by ensuring caseworkers are properly trained, giving investigators access to the criminal records of individuals they are investigating and providing educational resources for adoptive and foster parents to help parents deal with the challenges of raising a child.