RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Legislators all over the country are introducing so-called “Caylee’s Laws” — proposed laws that would make it a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to report their child missing.
The law, of course, is inspired by the acquittal last week of Casey Anthony in the death of her daughter, Caylee.
Wednesday a Riverside County lawmaker said California was jumping on that national bandwagon.
Assemblyman Paul Cook (R – Beaumont) said that he readying a “Caylee’s Law” bill for California that would close off the kind of loopholes that allowed Anthony to avoid serving time in prison for lying to police during the investigation into her 2-year-old’s disappearance and subsequent murder.
“Parents are the legal and moral caretakers of their children, and if something happens, they should notify the proper authorities,” Cook said.
“When a child goes missing or, in the worst-case scenario, a child dies, the early hours are critical to law enforcement,” he said. “Our laws shouldn’t allow bad actors like Casey Anthony to wait over a month to report a missing child. This bill will go after people like her but won’t incriminate well-meaning or distraught parents.”
An Orlando, Fla, jury found the 25-year-old Anthony not guilty of murder on July 5. Her daughter went missing in July 2008, but it was 31 days before the child’s disappearance was reported to police — by her grandparents.
Anthony told investigators the youngster had drowned in a swimming pool accidentally, and she disposed of her remains in a panic. The woman was photographed partying in clubs in the weeks that followed.
Anthony was convicted of four counts of falsifying police reports, each count carrying a maximum one-year prison term. The defendant was sentenced to four years behind bars, but won’t serve a day because of time served in jail and good behavior credits.
According to Cook, Caylee’s Law would make it a criminal offense not to report a child under 12 missing within 48 hours. Parents, legal guardians and caretakers would also be held responsible for a failure to notify police within 2 hours of finding their child’s remains.
Efforts to get similar laws on the books are under way in Florida, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Co-sponsors of Cook’s bill include Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, and Assembly members Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, and David Valadao, R-Hanford.
“We have watched a tragedy unfold in Florida, where no justice has been found for Caylee Anthony, causing us to examine our own laws,” Jeffries said. “We must act to ensure the protection of our children and guarantee justice is not obstructed.”
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)