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New Law Extends Sentences For Child Abusers

Beginning this month, people who cause permanent physical damage to children can be sentenced to prison for life. This is because of a new law called Adam’s Law.

About six years ago, Adam Carbajal celebrated his one-year birthday party at a Chuck-E-Cheese. The next day his mother’s boyfriend shook him so violently his injuries left him with a less than 5 percent chance of survival.

“It was like a kick in the stomach and shock,” said Maria Alvarez-Garcia, Adam’s grandmother. “It was just unbelievable, like -- wait a minute, he was fine the day before at Chucky Cheese to celebrate his first birthday. He was walking and crawling, he was baby talking and now he’s on his death bed. We couldn’t comprehend that.”

Adam survived, but is paralyzed on the right side. He can’t walk, and is severely brain damaged. His abuser received 10 years in prison, with a chance at parole. Alvarez-Garcia said that’s not enough. Starting this year, because of Adam’s Law, abusers who inflict permanent damage on children younger than 8 years old can get up to a life sentence.

The biggest complaint about Adam’s Law is that it will put more people behind bars in California, where prisons are already overcrowded. Former Assemblyman Mike Villines wrote this law.

“Yes, this will put more people in prison, there’s no doubt about it,” Villines said. “Will it be 200 people more or 100 people more? I’d love it if it was none, if none of these people were doing this to children.”

Villines said such abusers would be sent to prison anyway, they’re just going to stay longer now.

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