ALABAMA (WAFF) - Alabama is getting tougher on people who abuse kids. A new law means abusers can now be punished by life in prison.
It's all because of Winston's Law, which is named after a five-year-old Elmore County boy who survived horrible abuse. Investigators said it was at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
Just six months ago, Winston was found unresponsive and suffering from severe injuries in the back of a car.
"It's pretty horrendous what happened to him," Madison County Assistant DA Tim Gann said.
Today he is a healthy little boy, whose story is changing the way child abuse cases are prosecuted in Alabama.
"I think they felt like the law needed to be stronger to deal with cases of that extreme nature," Gann said. "There needed to be a stiffer punishment."
Winston looked on as Governor Bentley signed into effect Winston's Law which puts aggravated child abuse of a child under six on a par with an attempted murder charge.
"Anyone who would do that to a child, it's either repeated abuse or abuse that is extremely serious," Gann said. "Society needs to be protected from people who do those things."
Before Winston's Law, offenders could be punished only up to 20 years in prison. Now they'll face anywhere from 10 years to life.
"Those who I think are some of our most dangerous citizens living in Alabama, someone who is willing to abuse a child under the age of six, can be held accountable and hopefully this will keep other children from being abused by that same individual," Chris Newlin with the National Children's Advocacy Center said.
Prosecutors said this law will help keep the state's youngest citizens safe.
"They're vulnerable," Gann said. "They're the most vulnerable that we have. I think anything we can do to protect them is a good thing."
In January, an Elmore County Grand Jury indicted Winston's mother on aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment charges.
Copyright 2016 WAFF. All rights reserved.