State’s New Second Look Commission begins work

 (NASHVILLE, TN), October 29, 2010  — A new commission set up to identify ways to improve severe child abuse prevention met this week in Nashville to begin its work.  The 18-member Second Look Commission, which is chaired by State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Representative Janis Sontany (D-Nashville), will review cases and procedures related to severe child abuse to determine if they were handled in a manner that provides adequate protection for the children. 

“I am very impressed with the caliber and expertise of the members of this commission,” said Senator Johnson.  “It was very evident from our first meeting that we have excellent representatives from law enforcement, our prosecutors, the courts, child advocates and the medical community which will enhance our ability to forge real changes.  They bring tremendous knowledge and energy to this effort as we look at all aspects related to severe child abuse and how the system can be improved to give children more protection.”

Johnson said the group is looking at 401 instances of repeat child abuse involving 256 cases.  Legislation passed this year setting up the Commission called for the group to examine a sampling of cases of repeat and severe child abuse from all profiled cases submitted by the Department of Children’s Services, including holding investigatory meetings. 

“The Commission will identify specific cases of repeat and severe child abuse to see what trends or patterns have occurred by examining all aspects of the abuse,” added Johnson.   “This is a very challenging task, but it is necessary in order to identify ways to improve prevention and response before it is too late.”

The Commission’s findings and recommendations will address all stages of investigating and attempting to remedy severe child abuse.  It will also look at the risk of severe child abuse victims being returned to an environment where a second abuse might occur.  In addition the panel will look at the procedures used by courts that have jurisdiction over criminal and civil child abuse and neglect, as well as the laws used to determine whether or not an alleged perpetrator is prosecuted.  Finally, the Commission will examine the manner in which severe child abuse data is collected by government entities and any representation provided to victims.

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