Governor Brad Henry signed a bill into law today named for an Ada teenager. Senate Bill 1037, known as the Caitlin Wooten Act, is authored by Democrat Senator Susan Paddack and State Rep. Wes Hilliard, also a Democrat. The bill is named after 16-year-old Caitlin Wooten.
“Government has no greater moral obligation than to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens,” Paddack said. “Caitlin’s Law will create a safer Oklahoma for generations to come.”
Paddack (D-Ada) said SB 1037 contains two major reforms that are tough on crime and smart for Oklahoma families. The bill is aimed at strengthening bail laws by requiring persons charged with the violent crime of kidnapping to prove they are not a public danger before they may post bail. It also allows for an electronic notification system, called Victim Identification and Notification Everyday (VINE) to be put into place statewide in order to notify victims when offenders move through the criminal justice system.
“Caitlin’s family is to be commended for standing up in their darkest hour to help other Oklahoma families,” Paddack said. “Today is a victory for all Oklahoma families, and I could not be more proud of this family for standing by me throughout this journey. It certainly takes courage to turn tragedy into triumph and Caitlin’s family has done just that.”
Senator Paddack began working with members of Caitlin’s family shortly after the teenager was murdered by Jerry Don Savage.
“I told the family as we began working together to pass this law that I wasn’t sure where this journey would take us, but we would go on the journey together,” Paddack said. “They wanted a law that honored Caitlin. Senate Bill 1037 honors her caring spirit and also sends a strong message to those seeking to hurt Oklahoma families that Oklahoma will not tolerate this sort of senseless violence.”
“Protecting our families and communities through the passage of sound laws such as the Caitlin Wooten Act is one of the strongest messages we can send those who seek to harm our families,” the Senator said. “I am honored to stand here today with Governor Henry, Caitlin’s family and friends and the law enforcement community as we do our part to create a safer Oklahoma.”