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Bill for Ohio kidnapping victims would give cash, free health care and college

FBI via Reuters/file

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were rescued this week after years in captivity.

The three Ohio women who were held captive in a Cleveland home for years, would get a quarter-million dollars apiece and other benefits if a state lawmaker has his way.

Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, escaped May 6 after having been kidnapped between 2000 and 2004. Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, is now in jail after being charged with three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping, one for each of the women and one for a daughter, now 6, whom Berry bore in captivity.


Rep. John Barnes Jr., a Democrat who represents Cleveland in the state House, said it was a tragedy that the women missed the chance to go to college, so he's introduced a measure that would rectify that, calling it a "humanitarian issue."

The "Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight Survivors of Abduction Act" would give each of them $25,000 a year for 10 years, free health care in the state for life and free tuition at any state college or university.

Barnes, who introduced the measure Tuesday, told NBC station WKYC of Cleveland that he'd already gotten a lot of support from colleagues.


"Can you imagine living in a box, probably 12 by 12, for over 10 years when you had your freedom before?" Barnes asked.

"There are real challenges ahead for the women," he said. "As a community, we have an obligation to do everything we can."

While the measure is named for the women who escaped last month, it would apply to anyone held captive for eight years or more and would be funded by tax dollars.

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"We have a $63 billion budget," Barnes said. "I think $25,000 (a year) to help these young ladies is a small amount based on what they've experienced over the past 10 years."

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