MARYVILLE (WATE) – A law that would make it harder for dangerous felons to make parole has stalled in the Tennessee State House. The bill is known as “Amelia’s Law,” and named for Amelia Keown.
The 16-year-old died August 14 when she was hit head-on on U.S. Highway 411 near Maryville. The driver of the vehicle that struck hit, John Perkins, also died.
Amelia’s family has been pushing for tougher parole rules. The bill named in Amelia’s honor has stalled in the Tennessee State House and will be put on hold until next year.
Fighting for the law has been Amanda Moore’s sole focus since her daughter’s death.
“My heart sank even though I knew that it would probably happen,” said Moore.
Amelia’s Law would make it harder for dangerous felons to make parole. A fiscal note recently attached to the bill says it would cost $668,000 to implement, which is causing some lawmakers to reconsider their support for the bill.
That’s something Moore says is hard to swallow.
“It is hard to hear. It’s the same answer I got when she got killed?” said Moore. “It boiled down to they needed another bed. They needed another bed for someone else. This comes down to, is it more important for the state of Tennessee to save a perceived amount of money or to protect their citizens?”
A new Tennessee Bureau of Investigation toxicology report says Perkins was released from prison early. He had served four years of a 12-year sentence.
Moore says she is not giving up hope and has strong support from the bill’s sponsors.
“Bob Ramsey who has been extremely supportive through this entire thing said, ‘Don’t let them forget. Don’t let them forget about her, her story, how important it is for the citizens of Tennessee to have a bill like this to protect them.'”
The hardest part for Moore to deal with is the timing. News of the bill being put on hold came one week before Amelia’s birthday.
“It’s really hard to know she would have been 17, and she’s not here, and we always made a really huge deal out of her birthday,” Moore added.
Moore says she plans to push again for the bill next year. Now she is turning her attention to walk in Amelia’s honor at an event sponsored by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.
“I don’t want her to be forgotten. I don’t want her to be just the girl that got killed on 411. She was too good of a person. She had too much going for her, and she was really going to do things, and our family got robbed of her because the state of Tennessee didn’t do their job,” Moore said.
The walk and will be held on April 20 at 9:30 a.m. at West Hills Park, located off North Winston Road.
You can register for the walk by going to the Amelia’s Law website.
Amelia’s mom hopes everyone will join in and support the fight against impaired drivers.