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Dominick’s Law to increase punishment for child abusers - Tri-County Times: News For Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

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Dominick’s Law to increase punishment for child abusers

Calhoun family inspires historic child abuse bill

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Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:48 am | Updated: 9:15 am, Mon Jan 23, 2012.

 At 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, family of Dominick Calhoun and supporters of Dominick's Law are inviting others to join them for a rally in Lansing as a new bill is about to be introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives.

 The bill is being introduced in memory of Dominick Calhoun, a 4-year-old boy who was beaten to death in his Argentine Township apartment in April 2010. Dominick's 26-year-old mother Corrine Baker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse for her involvement with his death. Baker's 25-year-old boyfriend, Brandon Hayes, is currently awaiting trail for murder. Hayes stands accused of beating the 4-year-old boy to death over several days after the boy accidentally wet himself while sitting on a sofa.

 Supporters will be gathering on the front steps of the east entrance at the capitol building.

 If approved by legislators, Dominick's Law would increase punishment for child abusers to unprecedented levels.

 Family of Dominick and supporters of Dominick's Law would like to see stiffer penalties to those convicted of child abuse.

 James Lower, policy director for Rep. Paul Scott's office, said they have been working very closely with Dominick's family to put this bill together. He does expect quite a few supporters to be at the capitol on Thursday when the bill is introduced.

 Although a "Good Samaritan" law is not included with Dominick's Law, Lower said sentencing guidelines are included for convicted child abusers who commit the abuse in front of another child. Early on, supporters indicated they wanted reporting of child abuse to be a law, which would hold anyone accountable to reporting suspected abuse.

 Rick Calhoun, Dominick's grandfather, of Linden, said he is traveling to Lansing with a group of people who have been supporting this endeavor. He expects the group to make their presence known to the lawmakers.

 Calhoun said Scott has been instrumental in drafting this bill and he is supposed to come out and speak to the supporters. "He's (Scott) doing what he needs to do to get this done," he said. "We want to get this done - nothing more than that."

 Following the rally and introduction of the bill on Thursday, Calhoun and supporters of Dominick's Law are starting a campaign to get the word out for citizens to call their local representatives to support this bill.

Dominick’s Law

(excerpts of the draft)

A draft of a bill being introduced this week amends an existing law pertaining to child abuse.

• Rather than a prison sentence of no more than 15 years, one convicted of first-degree child abuse faces life or any term of years, but not less than five years. For a second or subsequent offense, a sentence of life would be any term of years, but not less than 10 years.

• Rather than a sentence of not more than four years, one convicted of child abuse in the second degree would be sentenced to not less than two years or more than 10 years. For a second or subsequent offense, the sentence would be not less than four years or more than 20 years.

• A person who commits child abuse in the presence of a child other than the child who is the victim of the violation is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years, but not less than five years. If one is convicted a second or subsequent time, the sentence would be imprisonment for life or any term of years, but not less than 10 years. Dominick’s law would be that voice.

 

A letter from Dominick Calhoun’s family

 Dominick Richard Calhoun was a victim of child abuse in the most severe way. Our story begins on April 12, 2010, when our family lost a son, grandson, nephew, brother and friend. Our children only have us to rely on, so it is our duty to be the voice for those children that have none.

 If everyone from judges to child protective services (CPS) had just done their job, this sweet child would still be with us. After Dominick’s death, we started looking into the reasons why we were let down by the system that is supposed to protect children from violent homes.

 After Dominick’s death, Facebook pages came up in memory of Dominick. The two key pages were, “Justice for Dominick,” and “Dominick’s law.” Right from the beginning, we started getting support from families of other children that have gone through similar situations. As our sites grew in popularity, we started receiving inquiries from people asking us for help because no one would help them. I would personally speak with some of these people and cry over their situations. These many conversations drove our family to fight harder to change the way things work. I hear over and over how the courts, (CPS) and other agencies turn these people away. The end result is children suffer. This has to stop.

 Ever since Dominick was taken from us, we have been busy trying to help local charities that help these very children that have been abused. In this journey, we have not been able to understand the magnitude of this very thing that took our Dominick from us. We then found out that existing laws to help these very children were in need of change, so we enlisted help from a wonderful lady, who helped us with the first draft of what would become Dominick’s Law.

 That’s when we started contacting state representatives. At our first meeting, we were very happy with the turnout of people who wanted to help us. I could see that we were going to do something special here.

 Our law is now beginning to receive action. With Lansing’s help, we will finally make this happen. Dominick did not have the chance to grow up and we will not get to enjoy even one more of the beautiful moments of his life. If Dominick’s Law had been in place, my grandson’s killer would not have been on the street to begin with.

 There is so much more that needs to be done other than this law, but it is such a huge step. My family and so many others grieve and cry every day over what has happened to our children. I know from living this nightmare every day that this has to change. Dominick’s law points us in the right direction.

Sincerely,

The Calhoun family

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