Parents go to great lengths to protect their children. Unfortunately, as the Kathlynn Shepard case taught us, our children are vulnerable to tragic crimes. Shepard of Dayton was kidnapped and murdered May 20, 2013, after getting off a school bus. Kathlynn’s parents urged lawmakers to increase penalties and oversight for sex offenders who attack children. On Tuesday, Michael and  Denise Shepard saw their vision become a reality when the Iowa Senate unanimously passed Senate File 2201.

I proudly supported this bill as it adds kidnapping a child 17 years old and younger to the  definition of second degree kidnapping. This would make the crime a class “B” felony. The proposed legislation also makes the second count of third degree kidnapping a class “B” felony.  The suspect in Kathlynn Shepard’s kidnapping and murder was sentenced to 41 years in prison on a previous kidnapping charge in 1991. Michael Klunder was convicted in 1991 of three kidnappings in two days. Two of his victims were three-year-old children. Klunder was released  in 2011, after serving 19 years in prison.

By making this fix in the Iowa Code and increasing penalties for kidnapping a juvenile, we will keep those likely to reoffend in jail for longer sentences.

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