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Wichita family testifies on behalf of Lailah’s Law years after 2017 assault by parolee

Kansas Health Institute/File photo

The report, according to the bill, can be made through a phone call, text, or email to corrections officers if a parolee leaves their dwelling outside of required hours.

Sarah Autrey held her daughter, Lailah’s, hand as Kansas State Rep. Cyndi Howerton recounted what happened to Lailah in the summer of 2017 at a west Wichita condominium.

The Autrey family testified Monday in Topeka before a legislative committee in support of Lailah’s Law – a bill that would require people who live with parolees to report to authorities when offenders are not at home during required hours.

A parolee, Corbin Breitenbach, assaulted and attempted to kill then-7-year-old Lailah when he snuck away from his girlfriend’s condominium after a night of drinking.

Lailah, now a teenager, said during her testimony that if a law like hers was in place before the assault, it likely could have prevented it.

“If the person caring for Corbin would’ve just called him in for not being home or wherever he was supposed to be, then maybe none of this would’ve happened,” she said.

Breitenbach is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the assault. He was out on parole for a few weeks from a previous conviction before the assault occurred.

Sarah Autrey also testified during the committee hearing. She said the bill is also meant to hold those who house parolees accountable.

“If one chooses to allow a known and convicted offender into their home for the purposes of dwelling, we would hope that there would be an interest in the safety and security for the rest of us in the community,” she said.

The report, according to the bill, can be made through a phone call, text, or email to corrections officers if a parolee leaves their dwelling outside of required hours.

But opponents of the bill said that would require even more work for corrections employees, who are already overworked and understaffed.

“We're so overtaxed; even just to meet the standards that are set upon us, it's very difficult for staff to do that,” said Randy Regehr with Reno County Community Corrections.

“So adding the responsibility to have to contact everyone who lives with an offender on their caseload, it's not really something that's very feasible.”

Some lawmakers pushed back on the comment.

“We need to figure out what we're going to do here,” said Rep. Eric Smith, the committee’s vice chair.

“Not every person is out on postrelease supervision for the same type of crime. And if we have a predator, or a growing predator, in our community who is being treated in the same way that a person who is on probation for simple possession of a controlled substance, we're not doing society justice.”

For Lailah, she just wants to prevent another situation like hers from happening again.

“I think that none of this would have probably even happened if somebody would have just … called him in,” she said.

“I think Lailah’s law should be a thing because it could help prevent something from potentially happening before it happens.”

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.
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