A key plank of the Senate Democrats’ agenda to “Create a Safer Oklahoma” won the approval of the full House today and is expected to be signed into law within a matter of days. Senate Bill 1037, known as the Caitlin Wooten Act, is authored by Democratic Senator Susan Paddack and State Rep. Wes Hilliard, also a Democrat. The bill is named after 16-year-old Caitlin Wooten.
Paddack, (D-Ada), said SB 1037 contains two major reforms that are tough on crime and smart for Oklahoma families. The bill is aimed at strengthening bail laws by requiring persons charged with the violent crime of kidnapping to prove they are not a public danger before they may post bail. It also allows for an electronic notification system, called Victim Identification and Notification Everyday (VINE) to be put into place statewide in order to notify victims when offenders move through the criminal justice system.
“I believe that if this law would have been in place before, the man who killed Caitlin would never have been out on the streets to harm her,” the Senator said. “The passage of this bill honors the life of Caitlin and helps create a safer Oklahoma in the process.”
Senator Paddack began working with members of Caitlin’s family shortly after the teenager was murdered by Jerry Don Savage.
“I told the family as we began working together to pass this law that I wasn’t sure where this journey would take us, but we would go on the journey together,” Paddack said. “It takes courage to turn tragedy into triumph and this family has shown great courage throughout this process.”
Hilliard, an assistant Democratic floor leader in the House, explained with the passage of SB 1037 today by the full house, the bill is one step away from being signed into law by Governor Henry.
“There is no greater moral obligation we as lawmakers have than to ensure the safety and well-being of all Oklahomans,” Hilliard, (D-Sulphur) said. “Passing this bill to create a safer Oklahoma was the right thing to do, and I applaud the members of the House for their support of Caitlin’s Law. I also commend this family for the dedication they have shown for making a difference in the lives of so many Oklahomans.”
Paddack said Caitlin’s Law is tough on crime and sends a strong message to those seeking to hurt Oklahoma families.
“It sends the message that Oklahoma will not tolerate this sort of senseless violence because we will protect our families and communities through the passage of sound laws such as The Caitlin Wooten Act.”