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With the Help of Secretary Merrill, Jessi’s Law Becomes Effective


Monday, September 9, 2019 – MONTGOMERY – At the young age of 12, Jessi Kearley was impregnated by her biological father. In and out of the court system as her parents battled for custody, Jessi experienced a tragedy no child should ever endure.

“My biological parents still had rights to me even though they raped and molested me as a child, and no child should have to go through that. I never want a child to go through what I have been through,” said Jessi.

Recognizing the need for change, Secretary of State John H. Merrill partnered with Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) and Representative Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) to introduce legislation that would terminate the parental rights of anyone convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, or incest.

During the 2019 Regular Session, the Alabama Legislature enacted Act 2019-512, otherwise known as “Jessi’s Law.” On September 1, 2019, Jessi’s Law became effective, denying the rights of parents to a child they have sexually assaulted. 

Following the passing of Act 2019-512, Secretary Merrill announced, “People often ask why I have chosen to invest a part of my life in public service, and having the opportunity to help people like Jessi Kearley is why. It was my honor to help her make this happen. In Alabama, we will continue to stand up for our children.”