'Aniah’s Law’ would reform Alabama’s bail schedule, lawmaker says

The suspect in Aniah Blanchard’s death was out of jail on bond for attempted murder and kidnapping charges
Updated: Jan. 22, 2020 at 5:46 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Rep. Chip Brown introduced “Aniah’s Law” Wednesday, named after Aniah Blanchard, a Lee County college student who was kidnapped and murdered in late 2019. The man accused in her case was out of jail on bond for unrelated attempted murder and kidnapping charges.

“This would hopefully prevent tragedies like the one that recently occurred with Miss [Angela] Harris’ daughter, Aniah," Brown stated while standing next to Aniah’s mother.

Alabama state Rep. Chip Brown stands next to Angela Harris to introduce "Aniah's Law," named...
Alabama state Rep. Chip Brown stands next to Angela Harris to introduce "Aniah's Law," named for her late daughter, Aniah Blanchard. The bill would allow judges to deny bond for all violent offenses.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Aniah’s Law would allow judges to deny bond for all violent offenses. Currently, bond can only be denied in capital cases.

Harris asked lawmakers for their support. “This is a must,” she explained. “We have to have this law. We have to do something to prevent violent offenders from being out there to commit crimes and to re-offend.”

Brown doesn’t believe his legislation would infringe on the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the court from imposing excessive bail.

“I’m very, very confident this will pass any 8th Amendment challenge,” Brown explained, stating it’s been reviewed by constitutional scholars and the governor’s legal office.

EquuSearch helping in Aniah Blanchard search
EquuSearch helping in Aniah Blanchard search((Source: Family))

Brown introduced the bill during the 2019 Legislative Session. It passed with a wide margin in the House but stalled out in the Senate near the end of the session. He expects it to pass out of both chambers this year.

"This is not a party issue, it's a public safety issue."

Harris said she was angry when she learned the man accused of killing her daughter was already facing serious offenses, yet still out on the street. She wants to save another family from the heartache she experiences every day.

“It just means everything to me,” Harris said. “I know Aniah is looking down right now and she’s very proud of the people that are fighting for her, and through this law, she can fight.”

Senator David Sessions will sponsor a companion bill in the Senate. Senator Cam Ward recently introduced a similar piece of legislation that would deny bond for any defendant charged with a violent offense.

If the amendment passes, it would appear on the November 2020 ballot for voters to consider.

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