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Maine Senate OKs bill to prioritize child homicide trials

March 31, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate has approved a bill to prioritize the scheduling of homicide trials involving children over other cases as a way to more quickly bring to light the failures that led to a child being killed.

The Senate voted 33-0 in favor of the bill on Tuesday, but it still faces more votes in the Legislature, The Portland Press Herald reported.

Rep. Bill Diamond, a Democrat from Cumberland who sponsored the bill, said bringing child homicide cases to trial faster would give lawmakers better access to welfare details that they can use to create reforms for the safety of other at-risk children.

Child homicide cases typically take longer than a year to go to trial, Diamond said.

The bill is one of many child reform proposals moving through the state legislature this year in addition to an $8 million plan from Gov. Janet Mills that would hire more child and family caseworkers, improve staff training and expand support for families.

The reform efforts are a result of a report from the state Department of Health and Human Services that revealed 25 children died last year, which is the most since the department began tracking deaths in 2007.