Kenosha county lawmaker proposes felony co-sleeping bill
When parents are intoxicated while sleeping with infant
RANDALL -- Kenosha County Republican Samantha Kerkman is pushing a bill that would give district attorneys more tools to prosecute parents who are intoxicated and harm or kill their child during co-sleeping.
The Milwaukee Health Department is reserving response until it sees the final draft of the proposed legislation but did issue a detailed statement to CBS 58 News about what it thinks are misconceptions about what is really going on.
First, Representative Kerkman's release issued Thursday:
Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Randall) has proposed a bill that will help prevent infant deaths from unsafe sleep conditions and create a penalty for those who cosleep with an infant while intoxicated.
The proposed bill would make several changes to state law. First, the bill would make it a felony to harm or kill an infant by cosleeping while intoxicated. Also, the bill requires that new parents receive educational materials about safe sleep practices and the dangers of intoxicated cosleeping before they are discharged from the hospital with their new baby. Finally, high schools would be required to provide instruction about cosleeping while intoxicated to students in one of grades 10 or 12. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, ten children died in 2012 from unsafe sleep conditions and ten have died so far in 2013.
"In the two years I have been developing this legislation, this issue has really concerned me as a mother of young children," said Rep. Kerkman. "Safe sleep conditions are so important for babies, and deaths by intoxicated cosleeping are so tragic and preventable. That is my goal by putting forward this legislation, to keep babies safe by preventing cosleeping deaths and hold accountable those adults who put babies at risk by dangerously bed-sharing while intoxicated." The legislation was first suggested by the Kenosha County District Attorney after a tragic cosleeping death that occurred in Kenosha County in 2011. Since that time, Rep. Kerkman has been working to develop the current bill draft. "I welcome input from stakeholders as this legislation makes its way through the legislative process," Rep. Kerkman continued. "I want to bring awareness to the seriousness of this issue."
You are correct that the MHD is focused on education and outreach, we have great community partnerships around the issue who are all working toward the same goals, who routinely provide education at clinics/hospitals/community organizations, etc. Because the bill is in its draft language, we are waiting to see final language before we respond.
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