'Nixzmary' Law Could Toughen Punishment for Child Abusers

The bill now moves to Gov. Paterson

Saturday, Sep 12, 2009  |  Updated 9:48 AM EDT
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'Nixzmary' Law Could Toughen Punishment for Child Abusers

Nixzmary Brown was beaten to death on January 11, 2006.

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New York lawmakers have passed a bill named for slain 7-year-old abuse victim Nixzmary Brown -- a law that would seriously boost jail time for adults who torture or kill a child in their care.

"Nixzmary's law" would change the maximum sentence to life in prison and remove any possibility that the perpetrator could receive parole, the New York Post reported.

The state Senate approved the bill on Thursday night. Gov. Paterson hasn't yet said whether he'd sign

The girl's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago is serving up to 40 years in prison on manslaughter, assault and other charges.

Her sentence is more than a decade longer in prison than her husband, Cesar Rodriguez. He is serving 29 years on a manslaughter conviction for delivering the fatal blow after Nixzmary was caught stealing yogurt.

Both trials had raised questions of whether mothers should be held to a higher standard than fathers. Prosecutors accused Santiago of not doing her duty to protect her helpless daughter, saying she only summoned help hours after the victim had died.

The case, coupled with a series of other high-profile deaths of children known to the agency, sparked public demands for reform of the city's child welfare agency. City officials responded by bolstering the corps of caseworkers.

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