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Push For 'Caylee's Law' Begins In NJ, PA

Push For 'Caylee's Law' Begins In NJ, PA

An Orlando resident places a toy bear at the wooded location of where the body of Caylee Anthony was found in 2008, in Orlando July 5, 2011.

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

July 08, 2011

PENNSYLVANIA – The national wildfire known as “Caylee’s Law” has come to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Legislators in both states are drafting proposed laws – in response to public uproar over the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial – that would oblige parents and guardians to promptly report the death or disappearance of a child.

The overnight push for new laws has some lawmakers and legal experts cautioning against “knee-jerk” legislation.

Anthony was acquitted in an Orlando, Fla., court Tuesday of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, who was found dead in 2008. Caylee was missing for 31 days before her death was reported; her mother was found guilty of misleading investigators, a misdemeanor.

The case attracted white-hot public interest, particularly on cable news and the Web. Outcry against the verdict was immediate. Social media and the blogosphere spearheaded outrage that soon went viral. On Twitter, all 10 “trending topics” Tuesday afternoon were Anthony-related; Casey-related tweets numbered 325,283. A Facebook page titled “RIP Caylee Marie Anthony (2005-2008)” attracted 542,678 “likes” by Thursday afternoon.

Michelle Crowder of Oklahoma, inspired by a “Caylee’s Law” proposal on Facebook, created a petition for a federal version of such a law on the website Crowder wants to make it a felony for parents or caretakers not to report a child’s death within one hour or a child’s disappearance within 24 hours. The petition had attracted 443,707 supporting votes as of late Thursday afternoon.

By then, versions of “Caylee’s Law” were afoot in Congress and seven state capitals, including Trenton and Harrisburg.

State Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Phila.) said he would introduce a bill to toughen penalties against those who conceal a child’s death. It also would create a new offense of “neglecting to report a missing child.”

The Anthony case “riveted the nation and prompted me to take steps to protect Pennsylvania children from similar injustices,” Farnese said. He said he was inspired by a slew of e-mails he received after the verdict.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Stewart Greenleaf (R., Montgomery), said he had not yet seen Farnese’s proposal and would review it when it reached his committee. He cautioned against a rush to approve “headline-driven” legislation.

“My first reaction is that too often we pass legislation that is knee-jerk, thinking we solve a problem, and we don’t look at the consequences,” said Greenleaf, admitting he, too, has been swept up by the pressure to respond to a particularly notorious crime. “That’s not good legislation.”

Farnese said he didn’t consider himself part of a rush to legislate.

Do you think Casey Anthony’s life will be endangered upon her release from jail?

“Our job as legislators is to look at trends across the country,” he said. “We need to be vigilant.”

He said his bill would change concealing the death of a child from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, with a maximum sentence of seven years and a $15,000 fine. It also would create the offense of failure to report a child missing, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In New Jersey, three Assembly Republicans, Domenick DiCicco of Gloucester and Camden Counties, and John Amodeo and Vince Polistina of Atlantic County, said they, too, were at work on a version of “Caylee’s Law.”

“Caylee Anthony may have been denied justice, but we can make sure New Jersey’s laws reflect our commitment to keeping children safe,” Amodeo said.

“Caylee Anthony’s death is an unthinkable tragedy that gripped our hearts,” DiCicco said. “The jury couldn’t agree with absolute certainty that her mother killed this precious child, but there’s no doubt she did not want authorities to find Caylee.”


The “Caylee’s Law” movement joins a number of laws named for victims. Perhaps best known is Megan’s Law, enacted in 1994 in New Jersey after the rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street.

Of the various “Caylee’s Law,” proposals, Perry Dane, professor of law at Rutgers University-Camden, said: “Unlike some of the other named laws that have come up in recent years that have seemed like overreactions or had unintended consequences, this one strikes me on its face as one of those perfectly sensible.”

Parents and guardians are required by law to provide for and protect children in their care, Dane said, but in the absence of laws specifically aimed at notifying authorities, a “Caylee’s Law” may be worth a look.

Rikki Klieman, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, said that while she supports the Anthony verdict, she also finds it reasonable in some cases to elevate misdemeanors, such as failure to notify, to felonies.

“But we have to have a debate about defining this,” she said. “In some of the proposed laws I’ve seen, the times are very short. Yes, 31 days is too long, but I can think of many situations in which 48 hours would be too short. We can’t put parents and caretakers in a situation that may not be their fault. We have to pay attention to reasonable complications and circumstances.”

Some, like Greenleaf, professed unease at laws made in the heat of public reaction to traumatic events or unpopular court decisions. Forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, of DeSales University in Bethlehem, warned that “if the law and its support are a knee-jerk reaction, then . . . it’s part of the spectator-sport aspect of crime coverage” in which people can overidentify, “feeling the win or loss personally.”

Greta Van Susteren, the Fox News host , said by e-mail that “99.9 percent of parents report missing children. I hate to think we have to legislate for the one-tenth of one percent who don’t. Maybe we have to.”

Rutgers’ Dane said, “The problem is that such laws can lead to a rush to judgment, and possibly overreaction. We have to look at a proposed statute on its merits, not according to its name.”

  • Me_blk_and_whit_max50


    about 2 years ago


    If you DO NOT REPORT A / YOUR MISSING CHILD, YOU SIMPLY DONT NOT CARE & CLEARLY WANT IT TO BE LEFT UNKNOWN TO LAW ENFORCEMENT! AND if that is an untrue statement then its left to you to prove it wrong by reporting your missing child. The law doesnt say: IF you have a missing Child, you can A) report or B) Not Report..

  • Me_blk_and_whit_max50


    about 2 years ago


    To Anonymous; I think yhe law is Good too! What is does do is: Support the process when Fowl Play is a Factor but mostly It supports the Victim(s)! if they are in trouble and are in great need of help in being found? Time is of the essence! From most of these Kids, it will sadly & probly be to late but it will support the justice to the victim. I have four grown children and I never lost one of them ever! I made sure of that because I am their guardian & protector, I am the Parent! Period! I have lived less that two miles from school but my children have never ever walked to or from school without my presents! That is because its my responsibilty to get them there safely & home again. They go nowhere by themselves, I take the everywhere, this includes the mcdonals public bathroom or any public restroom. Wake up America, be responsible to YOUR Children & be A PARENT.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    I'm wondering what will happen in split custody cases where one parent fails to turn over the kids. Wlll the other be prosecuted for not reporting children missing. The problem with broad sweeping laws like this is that there will always be exceptional cases where juries are nonetheless ordered by a judge to convict someone simply because the facts match up with a hastily worded new law.

  • 45089_396847393722850_1055776862_n_max50


    about 3 years ago


    The evil smile of a psychopath! She will pay one day for what she did to her daughter. R.I.P. Caylee Anthony.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago

    I'm happy that something is being done to close the gaps of failing to report a missing child however it's not going stop all probability that something like this is going to happen again.

  • M_9667fc2c687f23a8152f2bc98d03777d_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I have followed this case since the initial missing child report. It has sickened me at every turn. I am outraged that this murderer got off. May she burn in Hell...slowly.

  • 1979_max50


    about 3 years ago


    WhaleWatcher, that is what I would love to see but it will not happen. Seems that they only do this when it is a LEO who is not convicted of murder in a criminal State trail, even when they aren't guilty!

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I'll forever be perplexed that Casey wasn't convicted of not even Agg. Child Abuse - out partying like she's on vacation in Key West for Fantasyfest and Caylee's decomping in a swamp? Makes my blood boil. Casey should leave the country when she gets out.

  • Angel_kincaid_park_2014_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Over 800,000 signatures so far for Caylees Law as of 7/9/11, Justice for Caylee, We will see......
    Rest in peace Lil one

  • Angel_kincaid_park_2014_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Yea! I too think they should have found a different place for her memorial, I don't want to visit where this lil Angel may have suffered.

  • Me2_max50


    about 3 years ago


    That was a creepy picture. This should have already been in place a long time ago in my opinion.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    about 3 years ago


    tigerlilly_07, maybe the feds can pursue a criminal civil rights violation case against her. I've heard that idea tossed around quite a bit.

  • Th_photo5762_max50


    about 3 years ago


    She had an "Andrea Yates" look on her face....did you see that? Another issue is that now other mothers have witnessed, with detail, how to create this same situation. Hopefully we do not hear about other mother's who also do not want their kids, riding around with them in their trunks..... Still a sickening trial and Yes, her life will probably be in danger, if not harrassed.

  • Tumblr_lpagx176uq1qls45bo1_r1_500_max50


    about 3 years ago


    It should have ALREADY been a law dating all the way back to when most of our laws were made! She's still guilty in my mind. To bad they can't go after her again with Caylee's murder.

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