Governor Branstad signed a bill Thursday designed to keep sexual predators off the streets.
The bill is in response to the abduction and murder of Dayton teenager Kathlynn Shepard last June.
This bill allows for juvenile sex offenders still deemed to be a threat to the community to be held in civil containment units after they turn eighteen instead of automatically being released.
It also gives the Department of Human Services sixty days to plan treatment for a person being released from civil containment.
The mothers of both kidnapped Dayton teenagers say it’s a step in the right direction but agree more needs to be done to keep children safe.
“I think any sex offender having to go through these steps is a good thing for children and can help anybody who has been sexually assaulted,” Kathlynn’s mom Denise Shepard said.
Adding, “It’s a small step.”
Lawmakers are still working on the next step towards keeping children safe from sex offenders. A bill has been passed by the Senate and amended by the House that would upgrade the kidnapping of a minor from a class C to a class B felony.
A class B felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison as opposed to 10 years for a class C.
The big hang-up relates to reduced prison time for good behavior. The House argues people in prison for preying on children shouldn’t be offered early release as an incentive to behave in jail.
“We want to make sure in Iowa that if you’re preying upon children that you serve a full sentence and you have a long sentence to serve,” Rep. Chip Baltimore said.
Some lawmakers argue that without the incentive of good behavior, offenders will act out in jail becoming a threat to guards and other inmates.
The bill is back in the hands of the Senate.