Fighting for Stiffer Sentence for Child Abusers

February 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A new law introduced late last week, if passed will give 15 years to life for those who cause permanent injury to children who live through the abuse but suffer lasting effects.Adam Carbajal was injured three years ago by his mother's boyfriend who family members say shook him before throwing him up against a wall.

The injuries almost took his life, instead they left him with permanent brain damage.

Just one day before his life was changed forever, Adam Carbajal was celebrating his first birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Today he is a very different 4 year old, paralyzed on his right side, confined to a wheelchair and despite it all smiling.

Maria Garcia, Adam's grandmother, says "And the way that you see him right now, that's how he always is, he teaches so much. That no matter how bad life is, you always have to be thankful. And we are very thankful for having him. He is a blessing, he is a miracle."

District Attorney Elizabeth Egan says if passed this new law will carry a minimum sentence of 15 years to life for anyone who severely injures children under 8 years old. The law already protects those 8 and over.

"If you killed a child you were looking at 25 to life. If you permanently disabled a child you are looking at as what happened with Adam 12 years. And with good time and time credits, the first thought on this case was 6 years... And it's just wrong. It just screamed injustice," says Egan.

The man responsible for his lasting injuries, Ramon Curiel is serving a 10 year sentence for corporal injury and willful cruelty to a child. He will likely only serve 7 years with good behavior.

Assemblyman Mike Villines got choked up as he talked about the goal of Assembly Bill 1987 or Adam's Law.

"It sends a message to those who would otherwise abuse innocent children who do nothing but wake up on a morning and think that somebody will be there for them. And then have that happen. And it will also make sure that these people will be kept in prison where they belong," says Villines.

For Adam's family, fighting for a stiffer sentence has been a long road. The way the law is written, they felt it was too lenient based on the severity of the crime.

"Not only did we have to worry about Adam, his disabilities, his struggles, but we also had to make time to fight the justice system," says Garcia. A battle she hopes no other family has to take on during such a tragic time.

According to lawmakers, current laws don't take into consideration the end result of the abuse when determining punishments.

So far Assembly Bill 1987 does not have any public opposition.


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