A local group pushing to increase the punishment range for those found guilty of a sexual indecency with a minor charge protested over the weekend and will be out collecting signatures on Friday.
“We want to be a voice for these kids,” organizer Nicole Isom said. “We want to bring awareness to really just all of the crimes that are happening to our children. We want to bring mostly awareness to child sexual indecency because that is the bill and petition that we are working on right now.”
Arkansas Against Pedophiles-Conway is a group headed by Isom, Marisa Brewer and Matt Brown.
The group has protested along Harkrider Street with signs against pedophilia and advocating the social movement #SaveOurChildren. Isom said the group wants to do more than support the movement, but instead also work toward change.
“We want to get out there and we want to make some noise. We want to be heard, and we want thee kids to be heard,” she said just before Saturday’s rally near Hendrix College. “We want to make a difference in Arkansas. We want to be the change. We don’t want to be following and idolizing these other states on passing and normalizing pedophilia. We are not going to be that state. We are going to be Arkansas Against Pedophiles. We’re done.”
The group is pushing for legislative change – making a sexual indecency with a child charge a Class Y felony instead of a Class D felony.
Brewer, who started the local rallies, said she is passionate about this issue and that she does not believe the current punishment range for someone convicted of a sexual indecency with a minor charge is harsh enough.
“We are wanting to change Arkansas Code 5-14-110, which is sexual indecency with a child. In less than a year, I will receive my master’s degree in forensic psychology and implemented in my studies in the horrific effect of childhood sexual abuse that a person will suffer throughout their lifetime,” Brewer said. “Not only am I passionate about this for personal reasons, but my studies have opened my mind when it comes to this topic due to the effects that this traumatic experience has on children as well as how the mind of the offender functions. This has urged me to fight for our children.”
The group is working to gather 60,000 signatures for its petition for legislative change, Brown said.
A person convicted of sexual indecency with a child in Arkansas faces up to six years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and could also be ordered to pay a fine up to $10,000. If the charge was a Class Y felony, the offender would face 10 to 40 years or life in prison.
Arkansas Against Pedophiles-Conway organizers said they did not feel the current punishment was harsh enough and is asking residents to sign their petition to increase the punishment for this offense.
The group will be stationed in the Conway Commons shopping center parking lot from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday seeking signatures and also advocating change, Isom said.