The push to get Aniah’s Law passed in Alabama

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 5:45 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State lawmakers say they are pushing to get a bill named “Aniah’s Law” passed to honor her and hopefully save lives.

The bond reform bill could stop some suspects accused of violent crimes from bonding out of jail.

State Representative Chip Brown who sponsored the bill said he believes there is enough momentum behind Aniah’s law that when lawmakers return in February, it will pass.

On Friday, October 23, a year after Aniah Blanchard was kidnapped, Brown said “Today is a somber day because of what occurred a year ago, but it’s hopeful. I think this legislation gives hope to me and hope to people like the Blanchard and Harris family, the lives of other Alabamians might be saved.”

Aniah’s mother, Angela Hailey-Harris, has travelled across the state and spoken about her daughter and the bill. A Cullman family, who lost an uncle, is now supporting Harris as well.

Harris said, “My mission now is to save the world that is how I feel. I know I can’t save the world, but I’m gonna try. Aniah’s Law is one of the most amazing things. Our state needs it so bad. It will keep violent offenders from being out on the street out on bond.”

Representative Brown believes the third time’s a charm for Aniah’s law. Brown worked to get his bill through in 2019. It passed the house, but the legislative session ran out of time.

Brown was back at work to get the bill through this year and then the pandemic hit.

Brown said, “[The bill] Passed unanimously out of the senate judiciary committee and was going to be on the floor, scheduled to be on the floor that Thursday, but we couldn’t go back because of the COVID pandemic.”

If passed, Aniah’s law would allow judges to deny bond for violent felonies like murder, rape, or kidnapping, because right now they can only deny bond in capital cases.

The man accused of killing Aniah was already facing serious offenses, but was out on bond at the time of her murder.

Brown said, “This gives prosecutors an opportunity to have a tool in their toolbox to keep violent predators off the street.”

Representative Brown says he wishes the bill could have passed in Montgomery so that you could vote on it this November, especially as we mark the anniversary of Aniah’s kidnapping. But he plans to prefile the bill early, with the same language, in hopes of getting it through this legislative session.

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