JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law that would notify victims of a crime that their attacker has been released from a mental health facility.
For years, victims have had access to Vinelink.com, notifying them of their attackers' releases.
However, that has not been available for victims whose attackers are mentally ill.
"Previously, in this state and many states there's no notification for a victim of a crime if a person is acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect," Lauren Hannah, a former therapist said. "This is simply because of privacy laws, which we want to have privacy laws; however, it's important for victims like me to be able to know where the offender is."
Hannah spent time at Mid-South Health Systems as a therapist. In May 2014 following a group session, a man, Charles Bausley, came back in the room and attacked her.
"I struggled with him," she said. "I got stabbed multiple times until the nurse came into the room and was able to distract him. That's when he started to chase her."
Bausley told Jonesboro police he thought Hannah was the devil.
In Oct. 2014 Hannah met up with House Representative Brandt Smith to work towards House Bill 1045's approval.
Today, the bill is in its final stage, awaiting Governor Asa Hutchinson's signature.
Hannah said the purpose of the bill is to protect others who have gone through similar situations.
"A tragedy happened to me, but if any kind of good can come out of this, then that is what this bill is about," she said. "It's about unfortunately future victims, victims right now that don't have any notification that maybe their offender is still in the system. I hope that they will be able to sleep a little better at night. While I was advocating for this bill, a woman who lived in a different part of the state had contacted me. Her son had seen his father murdered. He was acquitted of mental disease or defect. They were in a store, and the boy runs into the man who murdered his father. They got no notification. So, this child was traumatized."
Hutchinson signed HB 1045 into law on Thursday at which time it became known as Act 429.
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