The 2019 report will be released soon. After a thorough review of the 50 U.S. state codes and the D.C. code, a gap which allows perpetrators of child torture to escape justice is evident in many jurisdictions.  Federal torture law only prohibits government actors from torturing individuals. Only Michigan and California have torture laws prohibiting private citizens from torturing both children and adults.  The majority of states have a child torture statute within their criminal codes.  The 2019 report will spotlight the states that do not have a child torture statute, and the injustice that results for children due to this gap in the the criminal code. 

A torture statute can provide prosecutors with a tool to address severe and systematic violence, provide justice for survivors, and provide the potential to incarcerate dangerous offenders.  Furthermore, those who torture the closest to them often go on to perpetrate acts of mass violence.  Many mass shootings in the U.S. are related to severe and systematic family violence. In at least 54 percent of mass shootings from 1999-2017, the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.[2]  Available evidence suggests that most victims faced escalating severe and systematic violence prior to being murdered.[3] More than 40 percent of the victims were children.[4]  Enacting a torture statute has the potential to safeguard children and the community.

[1] See Generally, Center for Responsible Home Schooling, Invisible Children Database (March 22, 2018), (while statics are not kept, the Invisible Children Database Illustrates the Case)

[2] Everytown for Gun Safety, Mass Shootings In The United States 1999-2017, 3 (2017), also J. Reid Melo Ph.D. et al., A Comparative Analysis of North American Adolescent and Adult Mass Murderers, 22 J. Behav. Sci. Law, 291, 296  (2004),

[3] See generally, Gail B. Strack et. al, A Review of 300 Attempted Strangulation Cases Part I: Criminal Legal Issues, 21 J. Emergency Med. 303 (2001); George E. McClane et. al, A Review of 300 Attempted Strangulation Cases Part II: Clinical Evaluation Of The Surviving Victim, 21 J. Emergency Med. 311, 314 (2001); Dean A. Hawley et al., A Review Of 300 Attempted Strangulation Cases Part III: Injuries In Fatal Cases 21 J. Emergency Med. 317 (2001). A. Ann Ratnayake, The Path to Reinvigorating Evidenced-Based Prosecution in Intimate Partner Violence Cases, 84 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. Arguendo 18 (Feb. 2016).

[4] Id. 

Chapter Published In the American Bar Association's State of Criminal Justice 2017 Book

Ohio v. Clark: Protecting Children Against Childhood Sexual Abuse


The chapter details  how the U.S. Supreme Court  Case of Ohio v. Clark could swing the pendulum back towards justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse by allowing into evidence forensic interview tapes even when a child is unable to testify. 

“In the least, Ohio v. Clark overrules the reasoning in Bordeaux and the similar line of cases where the statements of a very young child was found to have been testimonial statements. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to address the question of whether statements made by young children during forensic interviews are testimonial, the reasoning in Clark was similar to Arroyo and suggests such statements may be nontestimonial.”