Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Under a proposed bill, violent offenders in Maryland could have five years added to their prison sentence if the crime occurs around children.
The bill before the General Assembly prohibits a person from “committing a certain crime of violence when the person knows or reasonably should know that a minor of a certain age is present in a residence.”
It considers a minor at least 2 years old and younger than 16.
“All evidence shows that children who witness domestic violence suffer emotionally and developmentally and that they are at a greater risk of experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence as adults,” Doug Gansler, Maryland’s Attorney General, writes on his Facebook page.
He spoke in support of the bill at a hearing on Wednesday.
“Measures such as this one can help to stop the inter-generational cycle of violence in families and make a real impact in preventing domestic violence,” he writes.
The bill considers a child within sight or ear shot of a crime to be present.
“Children are the invisible victims of domestic violence,” says Angela Alsobrooks, the State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County. “This bill is especially important to us because it allows us to recognize them as victims but also to penalize individuals who commit acts of violence in the presence of a child in a residence.”
No date has been set for a vote on the bill.