The Anchorage Assembly will consider changes to the city’s criminal code on violence against children

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The administration of the acting mayor of Anchorage is asking the Assembly to consider several changes to the city’s criminal code, including sections of the code related to violence against children.

Part offer Removes Anchorage’s tongue Title 8, the city code, which describes the crimes that can be prosecuted by the city. City attorney Kate Vogel said the city will prosecute the offenses listed in this code, but the offenses are at the discretion of the state.

The City Code wants to remove a section that cites examples of “unreasonable” ways of raising a child, such as inflicting injuries that need to be treated or shaking a child under 5 years of age. He also wants to make a list of factors. related to things that are considered “parental upbringing” such as the level of pain and the age of the child.

At an Assembly meeting on Tuesday night, some people expressed concern that the removal of the language could make it easier for the city to prosecute parents for raising children in a reasonable manner.

Vogel said in an interview that the list of examples of violence against children in the city code was not intended to be comprehensive, but still confused judges. He said examples of this made it “more difficult to prosecute if such abusive behavior was not on the list.”

The city also says the criminal code for child abuse needs to be changed because the court said some of its languages ​​are incorrect. It turned out a court decision In 2011, Anchorage’s mother, Jessica Bigley, was convicted in a video of her raising her child using hot sauce and a cold shower on the “Dr. Phil” show.

After reviewing Beagley’s case, the appellate court said some words in the code “could cause a problem” – partly because the burden was on the parents not to prove that they were disciplining their children, but for them. because it includes language indicating that torture is tolerated if it is “done to ensure the safety of the child or” the moral, social or cultural well-being of the child. “

Vogel described the changes to Title 8 as minor updates, noting that in practice they do not change what can and cannot be prosecuted as violence against children. Vogel said so State Law rules that are considered “reasonable parental discipline” still apply in city affairs.

The city is also proposing to change the language to “violence against children if it intentionally, knowingly, negligently or negligently causes or allows a child or vulnerable adult to be tortured.” ruthlessly limited; was brutally punished or physically injured. ”

The city wants to remove the words “intentionally” and “knowingly” from this section.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, resident Louis Imbriani testified against the change, saying “the rationale for this is that it needs to be done more clearly, and I think it’s a bit confusing.”

A note explaining why they want to remove those words, city attorneys say that if someone does something that causes the child to be injured, the prosecution must show the defendant that he or she “neglected” to prove the person guilty of child abuse. In other words, it’s a distraction for the jury, they argue.

“If the jury finds that the act was not intentional, they may minimize the lower-level requirements of negligence in determining guilt,” the note said.

The report said that “previously it was a crime to inflict bodily harm or allow a child to be negligent” and the proposed amendment raises the legal level – according to the changes, the city was “negligently caused” or had to show the person. instead of just “negligence,” let the child get hurt.

The memo states that in practice, the city prosecutor’s office cannot prosecute a parent if a child, for example, plays uncontrollably and harms themselves.

“It should be noted that torture, ill-treatment, or neglect of cruel punishment remain a crime.”

At a meeting of the Assembly on Tuesday, it postponed taking action on the decree, which will be adopted at its June 22 meeting.

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