Assembly bill would criminalize death by intoxicated co-sleeping - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Assembly bill would criminalize death by intoxicated co-sleeping

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Injuring or killing a child in cases of intoxicated co-sleeping would bring criminal charges under a proposal in the State Assembly.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake) wrote AB 465 after hearing about a Kenosha County case where a drunken father fell asleep with his infant son.

"The defendant states that he later woke up around 5:00 a.m. and that's when he noticed he was sleeping on top of the child.  He attempted CPR and 911 was called," Rep. Kerkman said at a public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Children and Families Wednesday morning.

The child in that case died.  Kerkman now wants a new law to specifically criminalize such behavior.  But medical professionals testified such a law would send the message that sober co-sleeping is safe. They say it isn't.

"So we talk about, for example, the issue of the father coming home drunk, ending up smothering his baby - if that baby's in a safe sleeping environment in a crib it doesn't matter if dad's drunk," said Dr. Jason Jarzembowski of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, who testified against the bill.

Another bill that garnered a lot of testimony would require daycare providers to call a parent within one hour of their child not arriving at their scheduled drop-off time.

Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) authored AB 443 after hearing the story of a frenzied father who left his infant in a hot car, thinking he'd taken her to daycare.

"We each share the responsibilities of making sure a secure safety net is in place and help in any way possible to dot the i's and cross the t's for any young families in our communities," said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, testifying in favor of the bill.

But several daycare providers testified that such a law would open them up to legal liabilities and place an undue burden on them.

"Why is it that we need to be responsible for them, before they get that child to our center?  I don't understand that," said Sharlot Bogart, a Sun Prairie daycare provider.

The committee didn't vote on either bill Wednesday.  The author's say they're open to changes.

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