COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate passed legislation today known as "Destiny's Law," which would impose harsher penalties against offenders who cause disabling harm to their victims.

"Too often, crimes of violence involve young and vulnerable victims who are unable to protect themselves," said State Senator Bob Hackett (R-London), who sponsored this legislation.

Named in honor of Destiny Shepherd, of Clark County, Senate Bill 20 would require courts to impose additional mandatory prison terms of 5 to 10 years if an individual is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony offense of violence. Further, these additional prison terms would apply to those cases in which violence caused the victim to suffer permanent, disabling harm.

In 2006, Randi Shepherd went to the grocery store and left her infant daughter, Destiny, under the supervision of her boyfriend. Upon returning, the mother found her home surrounded by law enforcement and other emergency personnel. 

Destiny had been rushed to Dayton Children’s medical center, where doctors discovered the child had suffered skull fractures and serious brain injuries as a result of being violently shaken by the assailant. A child who once enjoyed running and playing continues to struggle with ordinary tasks as a result of the injuries she sustained more than 10 years ago.

Under current law, Destiny’s assailant could only be sentenced for up to eight years for felonious assault. This legislation will require the court to impose an additional mandatory prison term of 3 to 8 years if an individual is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, felony child endangering or felonious assault and also to a specification that the victim suffered permanent disabling harm.  

"It's my hope that increasing this penalty will help deliver justice on behalf of victims like Destiny who must live with the debilitating consequences of violent acts," added Hackett.

The legislation will now be sent to the House for further consideration.
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