ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The outgoing mayoral administration in Anchorage is asking the local Assembly to make changes to the city’s criminal code that it says would allow for more effective prosecution of child or vulnerable adult abuse cases.
During a recent Anchorage Assembly meeting, some people said they were concerned the proposed changes could make it easier for the city to prosecute parents for disciplining children in reasonable ways, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The changes were requested by Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s administration. A new mayor takes office July 1.
City Attorney Kate Vogel said the existing list of examples of child abuse in the city code wasn’t meant to be comprehensive and has confused juries. Examples included in the code made it so “if the particular egregious conduct wasn’t on the list, it was harder to prosecute,” Vogel said.
The proposal would remove a section of the code listing examples of “unreasonable” ways to discipline a child and remove a list of factors related to what counts as “reasonable parental discipline.”
It also would remove ““intentionally” and “knowingly” from a section that says it is child abuse if a person “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be tortured; cruelly confined; cruelly punished or physically injured.”
City officials seeking the changes also pointed to a prior court ruling that raised issues with some language in the code.
Vogel said the proposed changes would not change what can be prosecuted as child abuse.
Provisions of state law surrounding what counts as “reasonable parental discipline” still apply in municipal cases, she said.
The Anchorage Assembly postponed action Tuesday on the proposal and plans to reconsider it later this month.