After the highly publicized trial of Casey Anthony, a 25-year old single mom from Florida who was acquitted of murdering her 2-year old daughter Caylee, many states have been attempting to legalize “Caylee’s Law,” to strong opposition.The bill was proposed after Casey Anthony failed to report her daughter Caylee missing. Caylee was reported missing in June 2008 by her grandmother, 31-days after having last seen her. Caylee was found dead in December 2008, in a wooded area near her home. .
“Caylee’s Law,” if passed in the House, would make not reporting a child 13-years or younger missing within 24-hours a felony, in cases that the parent or legal guardian should have known the child was in danger. It would also make it a felony for parents not to report the death of a child to law enforcement within an hour of discovering the incident. In Michigan, the bill calls for violators to spend up to two years in prison, pay a $5,000 fine, or both.
Corey Yung, associate professor of criminal law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, said this in an interview in The Christian Science Monitor, “This just seems like this is an instance of people just wanting to do something, and [Caylee’s Law] seems to be a place where outrage has been directed.”
The bill received overwhelming support when first introduced in Florida.
Florida state Representative Bill Hager (R), had this to say in support of the bill, “Placing a law on the books requiring parents and guardians to report missing children who are in significant danger in a timely manner will ensure that parents are held accountable for their actions. It will also assure that we put justice on the side of those among us who are most vulnerable. And finally, it will put an end to the kind of irresponsible and outrageous behavior we observed with Caylee's mother."
Oklahoma state Representative Paul Wesselhoft (R), said, “I was shocked to find that we don’t have such a law in Oklahoma...I’m not surprised about the outrage, because I’m outraged.”
JacksonWolverine, an MLive reader, made this comment on the website, "This bill would have additional benefits. Particularly in the foster care system, where kids run away, but the foster family doesn't report it so they can keep collecting for that child. There are a lot of children in the foster care system who have simply fallen between the cracks. We can definitely do better by them."
Others believe the law would be a knee-jerk reaction to a sensitive, sensationalized case, and that it doesn’t take the negative, unintended consequences into account.
Erik Gable, a special projects editor of The Daily Telegram had this to say about the bill, “We should resist the temptation and stop demanding that lawmakers pander to our emotions. Before any rash, ill-considered bills make their way onto the books, “Caylee’s Law” needs a long, objective second look.”
Radley Balko, a senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post, made these points, “There are myriad other problems with the one-hour requirement. What if a child dies while sleeping? When would you start the clock on the parent's one-hour window to report? From the time the parent discovers the child is dead, or from the time the child actually dies? If it's the former, can you really believe what a parent tells you if he knows a felony charge hinges on his answer? What if a parent or babysitter missed the deadline because she fell asleep at the time the child was playing outside and suffered a fatal accident? You could argue this is evidence of bad parenting or inattentive babysitting, but under those circumstances, do you really want to charge a grieving parent or heartbroken babysitter with a felony?”
The bill will now move on to the Michigan House of Representatives after passing unanimously in the Senate.