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Do we need Caylee's Law?
State lawmakers are rushing to consider legislation to punish parents who, like Casey Anthony, fail to report missing children. Will such proposals save lives?
Protesters outside the courtroom where Casey Anthony was tried: A law that would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against parents who do not report missing children promptly is gaining support.
Protesters outside the courtroom where Casey Anthony was tried: A law that would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against parents who do not report missing children promptly is gaining support.
EPA/EDWARD LINSMIER/CORBIS
W

ith the public seething over last week's acquittal of Casey Anthony, lawmakers in a dozen states have proposed so-called "Caylee's laws" to allow prosecutors to file felony charges against parents who do not promptly report missing children. A Florida jury found Anthony not guilty in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, who disappeared a month before her mother notified police. Anthony got four years for lying to authorities — she'll be released this week due to the time she spent in jail awaiting trial — but if a Caylee's Law had been in effect she might have been sentenced to another 15 years in prison. Will a new law help prevent a repeat of this tragic case?

Caylee's Law could save lives: This law would not have protected Caylee Anthony, says Jac Wilder VerSteeg in The Palm Beach Post. She was never missing — she was dead and her mother knew it. But Caylee's Law could conceivably save others by forcing their parents to alert police and start a search before it's too late. As "a tool for punishing parents who don't protect children," it would be bound to do some good.
"'Caylee's Law' addresses injustice"

Legislating out of anger is a bad idea: In our justice system, the problem isn't that parents regularly get away with murder, says Radley Balko at The Huffington Post. "It's that parents and caretakers are too often overcharged in accidental deaths or on bogus allegations," and Caylee's Law would surely make matters worse. Like other laws named after high-profile crime victims, Caylee's Law plays "more to emotion than reason," which makes it a really bad idea.
"Why 'Caylee's Law' is a bad idea"

This is about righting an injustice: "'Justice for Caylee' has become the rallying cry in this case," says the Boston Herald in an editorial. But the sad truth is that Caylee is dead, and her murderer, no matter who you believe that was, "will likely not pay the price." But "what is possible is taking something hopeful from this mess." Passing Caylee's Law, as child protection advocate Laurie Myers says, "is the least we can do."
"Caylee's Law true justice"

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