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Tampa Bay area lawmakers refile 'Jordan's Law' to protect children in Florida's child welfare system

Posted: 9:00 AM, Jul 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-30 00:15:19-04
Lawmaker plans to file 'Jordan's Law'

LARGO, Fla. — Protecting children in the state of Florida. That's what several local lawmakers plan to do by refiling 'Jordan's Law' Monday. The law is named after Jordan Belliveau, who investigators say was murdered by his mother in September 2018.

Largo Police and five Tampa Bay area lawmakers announced the refiling of Jordan's Law on what would have been Belliveau's third birthday.

Jordan's law would protect other children from abuse in Florida’s child welfare system and help educate child welfare workers on signs of abuse.

Beliveau's mother, Charisse Stinson, is in jail for the crime. Detectives say in 2018 Stinson told an elaborate lie to detectives claiming she and her child were picked up by a stranger before she was knocked unconscious and her son was abandoned in the woods. She was later arrested and charged with killing Jordan and trying to hide his body in a wooded area near the Largo Sports Complex.

Investigators found several child welfare workers missed numerous warning signs that could have kept Jordan from being put back in the care of his mother. Less than 4 months after Stinson regained custody, Jordan was dead.

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Stinson's murder trial is scheduled to begin in March of 2020.

Although lawmakers tried to pass Jordan's Law last session, the bill died in the Florida Senate, disappointing lawmakers who say the bill will save lives.

State Rep. Chris Latvala, State Sen. Darryl Rouson, State Sen. Ed Hooper, Largo Chief of Police Jeff Undestad, and Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr. Jim Lewis announced Monday that they are confident Jordan's Law will have better luck in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

The lawmakers say it is crucial Jordan's Law is passed because 1,500 kids in Pinellas County alone are considered vulnerable for abuse.

Community members are joining legislators in pushing for Justice for Jordan. A new website launched Monday with a petition Floridians can sign to show support for the bill.

“We’re going to work like the dickens to make sure it gets through this year,” Senator Rouson elaborated.

Representative Latvala blamed "political vendettas" for holding up the bill, which he says could save hundreds of lives.

“If you play games on a child welfare bill that’s designed to protect kids’ lives, then I will call you out every single time,” Latvala added.

The new law would reduce the case load for child welfare agencies and establish better communication within the foster care system and with law enforcement. It also prioritizes training for parents, caseworkers and law enforcement to better recognize the warning signs of child abuse and head trauma.

This October, more than 500 child welfare workers will meet in Largo for a free training on better ways to spot child abuse.