KIMT NEWS 3 – Governor Branstad has signed a bill into law in hopes of keeping sex offenders off the streets longer.
This new law says those convicted of a violent sexual offense as a juvenile can be sent to civil containment after being released from prison, keeping them from being sent back into the public.
It’s a bittersweet moment for the parents of Kathlynn Shepard.
They say if the law were in place last year, their daughter would still be with us because Michael Klunder would still be put away.
It has been a year of grief, mourning, and a lot of effort for the family.
After what happened to their daughter, the Shepards want to ensure other parents have a little more piece of mind by trying to prevent a repeat of what happened in the small town of Dayton last May and June.
“I said we have got to do something about this,” says Tehra Powers.
She was one of Kathlynn’s teachers and really got the ball rolling with this legislation.
“I had people lined up all over the state doing petitions, things like that you know to get this law changed,” says Powers.
They were able to gather more than 15,000 signatures, and then several lawmakers got to writing.
On Thursday, the bill became law.
However an area this legislation doesn’t address is “good time”. Both Powers and the Shepards feel that sexual offenders should not be granted the 1.2 days for every day served in prison, rather, they should serve their full sentence.
“Klunder was let off for good behavior and when he got out for good behavior, look what he did. He took two children and killed one of them,” says Denise Shepard.
A separate bill would address this issue, which is still under consideration by lawmakers.
For now, the family is happy that the state has taken the first step, but say, that’s just the start.
“If it takes 10,000 small steps to get one big step accomplished then that’s what we’ll do,” adds Mike Shepard.
Denise Shepard says she knows everyone is put on this earth for a purpose and has no doubt that Kathlynn was here to open the eyes of legislators and crack down on these laws.
“I can’t think of another reason why she wasn’t put on this planet was to make sure that she helped other children not have to go through this, because I know you know of the last things she had said to Desi was “we didn’t deserve this, don’t ever have this happen again,” says Denise.
The family also wanted to emphasized that this bill is not about Kathlynn. It’s about all children who are alive, with their families, and can be better protected.