When Casey Anthony was acquitted of murder in Florida earlier this month, people across the country expressed outrage over the verdict, saying Anthony was actually guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. One of the more bizarre and potentially damning facts to come out in the trial was the fact that the young mother did not report her daughter’s disappearance for 31 days. Just hours after the verdict was announced, a mother of two in Oklahoma created a petition calling for lawmakers to draft “Caylee’s Law,” which would have punished Anthony for not reporting her daughter missing within 24 hours. The effort went viral.
Since then, lawmakers in more than 20 states have made moves to introduce “Caylee’s Law” in one form or another. Even though the Oregon Legislature won’t be in session again until February, 2012, Rep. Shawn Lindsay (R-Hillsboro) has already said he’ll introduce a “Caylee’s Law” bill in Oregon as soon as he has the opportunity. He says he’s received hundreds of emails urging him to take action on the idea.
Not everyone agrees, however, that such a law is necessary. Some are even calling it a bad idea, arguing that it could end up providing a tool to punish innocent, law-abiding parents who may not report a missing child promptly for a number of reasons. Another concern is that “Caylee’s Law” could result in over-reporting from parents worried about violating the statute, thus overwhelming law enforcement. One writer for Salon.com says that laws named for crime victims are usually not good policies because they are so fraught with emotion.
Are you a parent? Do you think “Caylee’s Law” is necessary in Oregon? Why or why not?
- Shawn Lindsay: Oregon state representative (R-Hillsboro)
- Radley Balko: Senior writer and criminal justice reporter for The Huffington Post