With 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"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- The American middle class is no longer safe from poverty — and that might be a good thing
- Adrian Peterson and our misguided debate about spanking
- The Tea Party has its own immigration problem: Cuba
Subscribe to the Week