The family of Caitlin Wooten stood beside State Senator Susan Paddack at the Capitol today to show their support for Senate Bill 1037. Paddack, an Ada Democrat, said Caitlins Law, seeks to protect Oklahoma families and communities from senseless acts of violence.
It takes courage to turn tragedy into triumph, Paddack said. The family standing with me today has shown great courage throughout this process. I could not be more proud to carry this piece of legislation that will honor the memory of Caitlin Wooten and in the process prevent other Oklahoma families from suffering a similar loss.
Paddack said SB 1037 contains three 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 a violent crime to prove they are not a public danger before they may post bail. It also beefs up victim protection order (VPO) laws in Oklahoma to mirror federal VPO laws. Finally, the bill will allow for an electronic notification system to be put into place statewide in order to notify victims when offenders move throughout the criminal justice system.
"This bill will not bring back my daughter, Donna Wooten, mother of 16-year-old Caitlin, said. But if it protects just one Oklahoma family from going through what my family has suffered, then this bill is the greatest thing we could ever do to honor the memory of Caitlin.
Senator Paddack began working with members of Caitlins family shortly after the teenager was murdered by Jerry Don Savage. She knew after learning of Caitlins tragic death, as a lawmaker she must work to change the laws to prevent another family from being ripped apart by a senseless act of violence.
I told this family that I didnt know where this journey would take us, but we would certainly take that journey together, Paddack said. So today we stand here together in support of this piece of legislation because it is the right thing to do, and because it will protect others from a tragedy like this. I commend this family for the dedication they have for making a difference in the lives of so manyOklahomans.
President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater) said the bill will most likely go through the Senate Judiciary Committee and believes Caitlins Law should be among the top priorities on the committee agenda when it meets for the first time in February. Morgan expects the bill to make it through the legislative process without any problems.
I cant imagine this bill being held up for political purposes because I believe every legislator in this building wants to do their part in preventing another family from suffering a loss like the one of Caitlin, Morgan said. SB 1037 is tough on crime and it is a strong bill for Oklahoma families and Oklahoma communities. And I am extremely proud of this family and Senator Paddack for having the courage to stand up for the safety of all Oklahomans.
Paddack said she will work diligently with House and Senate leaders to get the bill passed quickly when session begins in February.
By passing Caitlins Law early in the session, we will be sending a strong message to those who think they can get away with hurting Oklahoma families, Paddack said. We will send the message that Oklahoma will not tolerate this sort of senseless violence because we believe in protecting Oklahoma families and our communities.