Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today held a ceremonial bill signing of "Lynn's Law," or HB 531/SB 675, legislation allowing district attorneys to prosecute an individual who knowingly abandons a person with an intellectual disability.
This bill makes it illegal for a person who has assumed responsibility for and is knowledgeable of another's inability to care for him or herself to abandon that person.
The law adds abandonment to the current statute that covers abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult person or persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
"I want to thank the General Assembly for passing this sensible piece of legislation," Haslam said. "One of the state's primary responsibilities is caring for the most vulnerable, and this bill gives us a tool to help protect those with developmental and intellectual disabilities from being abandoned."
The legislation stemmed from the much-publicized incident in June 2012 when Lynn Cameron, a disabled 19-year-old, was driven from her home in Illinois by her mother and abandoned at a bar in Caryville.
After the case was publicized, it took 10 days to determine Cameron's identity, but under state law at the time, her abandonment was not an indictable offense.
State Sen. Ken Yager (R-Harriman) and state Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) sponsored the bill.