Reprinted with the permission of the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution.
2000 GEORGIA LEGISLATURE: 'Terrell's law' passes early test
Backers of a bill that would give doctors the authority to take temporary protective custody of children they suspect have been abused said Thursday they are confident the measure will win quick approval from the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 315, also known as the "Terrell Peterson Act," was unanimously approved Thursday by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee and sent to the full committee for a hearing next week.
"This is really an issue people are looking at. I feel confident about it making through this session," said Sen. Nadine Thomas (D-Ellenwood), the bill's primary sponsor.
The bill is named for the 5-year-old Atlanta boy who died in January 1998 after eight reports had been made to the Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services alleging that Terrell or his siblings were being neglected or abused.
Terrell's grandmother, his aunt and the aunt's boyfriend have been charged in his slaying.
Terrell's case was brought to light in a series of articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that documented shortcomings in DFACS and the state's child protective services system.
His case is among 13 that are being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Members of the Civil and Criminal Practices Subcommittee made only minor changes in wording of the bill after questions were raised about the liability of doctors, how quickly doctors would have to notify DFACS that they had taken a child into custody, and how soon parents would be notified of the action.
Thomas, a registered nurse, said the bill is modeled after similar laws in Iowa and Illinois.
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