DOES INDIANA NEED A ‘CAYLEE’S LAW?’
State and federal offices across the country – including some here at the Indiana Senate – have experienced an outpouring of outrage since Casey Anthony was acquitted July 5 in the highly publicized Orlando, Florida murder trial.
One Associated Press story indicated 700,000 people had signed a petition urging Florida state legislators to consider enacting a law that would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against parents who do not immediately report missing children.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in at least 16 other states – including Indiana – have also discussed or offered proposals reacting to the case.
My colleague, Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) has already issued a statement saying he will consider action in the 2012 Indiana General Assembly to ensure no child goes through the same indifference that was apparent in the Caylee Anthony disappearance. Because many Americans felt justice was not served in the Anthony trial verdict, Steele and other Hoosier legislators recently began a thorough, formal review of relevant Indiana statutes.
State statute currently requires a person who discovers a dead body to report it within three hours. Steele and his committee will explore if the law needs to be changed, making failure to report a dead body a felony instead of a misdemeanor
Anthony’s 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, was last seen at the Orlando home she shared with her mom and her maternal grandparents in June 2008. For the next month, Anthony, then 22, left her parents’ house and spent most of her time with friends, shopping and partying, telling her family and others that Caylee was with a nanny. That proved to be untrue.
Anthony was indicted for first-degree murder after Caylee’s remains were discovered in December of that year. Last month, she was acquitted of charges relating to Caylee’s death but sentenced to four years in prison for providing false information to law enforcement. Because of time already served, Anthony is now free – but wouldn’t be if laws now being discussed in Florida had been in effect.
For example, one proposal would make it a felony for a parent or other caregiver failing to report a child under the age of 12 as missing after 48 hours. It also would make it a felony if a child’s death or “location of a child’s corpse” was not reported to police within two hours of the death.
Had that law been in force, Anthony could have faced another 15 years behind bars – even with her acquittal on the murder charge.
Caylee Anthony’s fate was sad, indeed. Perhaps her death will help other children, who may be better protected under the new laws that will bear Caylee’s name. I will support Sen. Steele’s efforts in the 2012 Indiana General Assembly to strengthen state law concerning reporting a missing child.
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