Wis. bill would make some sleeping deaths a felony
- Associated Press
- September 27, 2013 - 12:25 PM
MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin lawmaker wants to make it a felony to harm or kill an infant by co-sleeping while intoxicated.
Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Randall, is proposing the bill that would also require new parents to receive safe-sleep training before discharged from the hospital. Sleeping with a child while impaired by drugs also could lead to prosecution under the bill, which is still in its early stages.
Kerkman's still seeking co-sponsors.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/19JTcIB), as of Sept. 25, at least 55 infants have died in Milwaukee since 2009 after being exposed to unsafe sleeping conditions.
While it is unknown how many of these deaths occurred while an adult was intoxicated, the Milwaukee Health Department and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies sleep in their own cribs and never share a sleep surface with another child or adult, regardless of their condition.
Experts agree that the dangers of co-sleeping are compounded when infants share a bed with an impaired adult.
"Safe sleep conditions are so important for babies, and deaths by intoxicated co-sleeping are so tragic and preventable," said Kerkman, the mother of two children, ages 6 and 8.
She said she hopes the bill, if passed, would "hold accountable those adults who put babies at risk."
The law sets no blood-alcohol standard for safe co-sleeping. And even when an adult admits being intoxicated, the death is typically not discovered until hours after the person stops drinking.
Kerkman's bill would enact a standard matching the state's drunken driving laws: A blood-alcohol level of 0.08 would be proof of intoxication. It would also require high schools to provide instruction to students concerning drinking and bed-sharing.
Milwaukee had its recent unsafe-sleep death Sept. 20. The child's mother admitted to investigators that she drank a beer cocktail, vodka and smoked marijuana before going to bed. It was the city's 10th this year.
© 2013 Star Tribune