“Winston’s Law” gets nod from committee; Awaits legislature’s approval

“Winston’s Law” (Senate Bill 23) is a child abuse legislation and has been named so in the honor of Winston, a five-year old boy who is the center of a high profile Elmore County child abuse case. The bill was drafted after this incident came to light and has now received a unanimous voting from the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee. It is now hoped that it would soon make it to the Legislature and the Senate and ultimately receive Governor’s signature this session itself.

During September 2015, Winston was found in the back of Scott Hick’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Bay County, courthouse, in an unresponsive state when Hicks was handling a warrant issued against him. Scott Hicks, aged 38, is a resident of Wetumpka city and is Hallee McLeod’s boyfriend. He was a co-owner of a spa rejuvenate with locations in Prattville and Montgomery.

McLeod, resident of Wetumpka, is 29 years old and mother to Winston. She was recently indicted by the Elmore County jury on charges of aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of child. She is currently in Elmore County jail for bonds of $300,000 as per the jail records.

The bill aims to amend the punishment awarded in cases of aggravated child abuse. Currently, child abuse and its aggravated form are found in two different categories. At present, a child abuse case where the victim is six years old or younger is a Class ‘B’ felony providing for a punishment range of two to 20 years in prison. The bill seeks to amend the law by making both child abuse and its aggravated form a Class ‘A’ felony that will be range punishable with 10 to 99 years of imprisonment. This change would thus bring it in the list of more serious crimes in Alabama.

The bill is endorsed by District Attorneys Association of Alabama and Child Protect and sponsored by Representative Paul Beckman, R- Prattville, and State Senator Clyde Chambliss Jr. Prattville.

Sheriff Bill Franklin and Houston, a veteran prosecutor, has called Winston’s physical abuse the worst they have seen so far in their life where the child was able to survive. Houston has stated that he is currently in a loving and supporting environment and is doing much better than expected.

Winston is now in the care of his father, Joey Crampton and is making a remarkable recovery. If passed, the new law will not apply to Winston’s case but will definitely serve as a remarkable step in ensuring justice for everyone going forward. Crampton has been seeking justice for his son through his Facebook page, JusticeForWinston and has written that justice for him would only mean a law that can protect people, humanity and children.


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