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Task force proposes 2 bills to protect abused children

Still four months before lawmakers arrive at the state capitol for the next legislative session. But a task force focusing on abused children on Tuesday put the finishing touches on bills that could be voted on next year.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Still four months before lawmakers arrive at the state capitol for the next legislative session. But a task force focusing on abused children on Tuesday put the finishing touches on bills that could be voted on next year.

Far from Arkansas' playgrounds and school campuses, the Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Abused and Neglected Children at the state capitol has spent the better part of this year working on two proposed laws that will go forward to the full legislature next year.

The first bill is in response to the David Pierce case in Benton. Pierce served as music minister at First Baptist Church when he admitted in 2009 to sexually abusing 11 boys. Pierce got out of prison in 2011 after serving just 2 ½ years of a 10 year sentence.

Senator Percy Malone (D-Arkadelphia) says change is needed after the task force found 18 instances in state law where the parole board isn't able to deny parole.

"We need to have it when those individuals who have perpetrated these hideous crimes that the parole board will have the ability to keep them locked up," Malone says.

The second bill, comes after the state supreme court ruled earlier this year a teacher who had sex with a student couldn't be punished if the student was already an adult. Malone says the a new bill reverses that and addresses a weakness in state law.

"We need to do our best as legislators to make sure that when someone is in school and they are under the control of an adult then that trumps how old they are," Malone says.

But it won't be until January at the earliest before either bill can be acted on.
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