Proposed Act to Help Recent Cleveland Kidnapping Victims Attend College
There’s a new act, specifically designed to help the survivors of the three abducted Cleveland women, who were recently rescued, attend college
State representative John Barnes, Jr. has introduced the Survivors of Abduction Act to help the three survivors who recently escaped after being held for more than a decade against their own will.
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The act, created with the three survivors in mind, would provide each woman a minimum of $25k annually in addition to college
tuition, fees and living expenses as reparations for their years of captivity.
The bill additionally calls for a lifetime of government medical assistance to anyone help in “involuntarily servitude” for eight years or more.
According to The Huffington Post
reports, the democrat representative has received expressions of support from both sides of the political spectrum for the bill.
The women recently escaped after being abducted more than ten years prior in their teens and twenties.
Their alleged captor, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, was charged with rape and kidnapping and, according to his attorney, will plead not guilty.
Barnes reportedly drafted the bill after contemplating the case, realizing the gravity of more than ten years of daily life missed by being held against their will. According to reports by The Huffington Post
, Barnes realizes nothing will undo their past, however, Barnes believes that policymakers needed to take action in the form of reparations.
He settled on offering health care, education and yearly financial support
derived from a crime victims’ reparation fund for a minimum of the number of years they were held as captives.
“Society is not going to be kind to them regardless of whether or not they were in this situation or not. It’s going to view, ‘Well, what have you done? What do you have to offer?’” said Barnes. “So, I thought: Let’s look at how we could restore what they would have received had they in fact had an opportunity to have their freedom.”
The drafted bill would be paid for by taxpayers and bears the names of the victims.
The victims, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight preferred not to comment on the proposed bill, as they are currently spending their restored freedom focusing on getting back to daily life.
“Anything the community does to support these women is greatly appreciated,” said Jim Wooley, the attorney for the three women.
In order to take advantage of the offer of college tuition, the three women would first need to obtain GEDs and be admitted to a public institution of higher education.
Barnes wants the public to continue their support for the women, even if the legislation indeed passes.
“We want to be mindful that as the news goes away, and as the lime(light) of the moment begins to dim, that a lot of that support is going to go away. So that, by far, is not enough to be sustainable to them,” said Rep. Barnes.
The women have received a tremendous amount of support from around the globe as their story unfolded. Barnes simply believes that should continue.