MTPR

Montana Department of Justice

Aaron Bolton

The director of a private therapeutic treatment center for kids in northwestern Montana says he plans to appeal the state’s suspension of his license to operate.

Tuesday, state health officials removed more than two dozen kids from the Ranch for Kids in Rexford with a court order, citing “egregious, chronic, and persistent child abuse.”

7 p.m.:  This story has been updated with quotes from a DPHHS official.

The Montana State Health Department has removed 27 children from a youth treatment facility in northwest Montana called the Ranch for Kids, citing, “serious allegations of egregious, chronic, and persistent child abuse and neglect."

The Lincoln County District Court ordered the removal of the children from the ranch Tuesday, pending a full investigation.

Attorney General Tim Fox announces plans to hire a missing persons specialist, May 21, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

More than 120 people, including members of state, tribal and local law enforcement, attended a public training in Helena Wednesday. The daylong training, organized by Montana’s Department of Justice and Montana’s U.S. attorney, highlighted situations when indigenous persons go missing.

'Hanna's Act' Missing Persons Bill Clears The State Senate

Apr 16, 2019
Sen. Diane Sands (D) - Missoula
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

HELENA—After a turbulent journey through the Montana Legislature, the bill named after Hannah Harris, who was found murdered on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2013, passed the Senate 37-13 Tuesday.

A sign from a Jan. 9, 2019 missing and murdered Indigenous women vigil in Missoula.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Proponents of a proposed Montana bill meant to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women said Monday they now believe that it has been amended to become toothless.

As originally drafted, Hanna’s Act would have directed the state Department of Justice to hire a missing persons specialist to coordinate with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement on cases. The idea being to improve response times by smoothing over jurisdictional issues.

The suspect accused of killing one man and wounding three others, including a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper, appeared in Missoula County Justice Court Monday.

Bond for 28-year-old Johnathan Bertsch was set at $2 million.

Funding For Missing Persons Bill Remains In Limbo

Mar 12, 2019
A sign from a Jan. 9, 2019 missing and murdered Indigenous women vigil in Missoula.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers are no closer to agreeing on who should fund a missing persons bill after a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

House Bill-21, or “Hanna’s Act” is named for a Northern Cheyenne woman who was murdered in 2013. The bill would create a position in the Montana Department of Justice to investigate every missing persons case across the state, in an attempt to bridge gaps in communication and jurisdiction between state, tribal and federal agencies.

Montana Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion.
Courtesy Bennion campaign

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s chief deputy has announced he plans to run for Fox’s seat in next year’s election.

Republican Jon Bennion has worked at the Montana Department of Justice for the past six years.
The 40-year-old Billings native says his tenure there gives him a distinct advantage in Montana’s 2020 Attorney General race.

Rep. Rae Peppers, D-Lame Deer, stands at a podium in front of Gov. Steve Bullock and other proponents of Hanna's Act and HB 54 after a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. January 30, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A bill named for a murdered Northern Cheyenne woman had its first hearing in the Montana Legislature Wednesday morning.

Hanna’s Act, House Bill 21, is one of several in the legislature that draws attention to the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

S.K. Rossi, of the ACLU of Montana, speaks at a press conference at the Montana Capitol Wednesday in support of bill that would stop the state from suspending the driver’s licenses of people who fail to pay their court debts. Jan. 9, 2019.
Tim Pierce / UM Legislative News Service

Montana lawmakers are considering a change to when drivers licenses can be suspended. Critics of current law say taking away some people’s ability to drive criminalizes poverty.

The bill draft would take away the ability of a judge to suspend someone’s license if they fail to pay court fines, costs or restitution.

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