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Ohio beefs up penalties for attackers who disfigure, maim victims

Attackers who disfigure their crime victims could face longer prison sentences under a new law named after Judy Malinowski, who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend.

Malinowski spent 696 days in the hospital before she died in June.

“This terrible, terrible tragedy doesn’t just drift away because (Judy’s daughters) have to live with the aftermath. And the aftermath is really, really hard,” Kasich said. Malinowski’s daughters, Kaylyn, 13, and Madison, 10, attended the bill signing with Kasich.

Related: Ohio Senate passes Judy’s law, day after burn victim dies

Kasich held a ceremonial signing of the bill on Thursday with Malinowski family members and advocates from the Ohio Domestic Violence Network attending.

“It shouldn’t take this kind of a tragedy to give domestic violence our full attention,” said Nancy Neylon of Ohio Domestic Violence Network. The state needs to focus on prevention programs and comprehensive services for victims, she said.

The new law mandates an additional six years in prison in felonious assault cases if the offender used an accelerant or the victim suffered permanent disfigurement or substantial incapacity. The extra six years is not subject to any rollback under any early release programs.

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The ACLU of Ohio opposed the bill, saying offenders convicted of felonious assault already face severe punishment and the state cannot afford to pack more people into an overcrowded prison system.

ACTION Ohio Coalition for Battered Women supported the bill, noting that research show a victim’s face, head and upper body are more apt to receive more serious injuries when the abuser is becoming more lethal.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 1 million women each year seek hospital treatment for serious injuries caused by abusers, ACTION Ohio testified.

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