Four states – New York, Florida, Oklahoma and West Virginia – have put the wheels in motion to enact what is being called “Caylee’s Law.” It’s legislation that would force parents and guardians to report missing children within the first 24 hours of their disappearance.
Three more states are reported to be following suit.
The proposals follow the public outrage over the acquittal of Casey Anthony, who waited a month before informing authorities that her 2-year-old daughter was missing. The delay hampered the search and was said to have affected the condition of her remains.
After Tuesday’s Anthony verdict – which cleared her of any culpability for Caylee’s death but found her guilty of lying to investigators – an online petition for Caylee’s Law went viral on the site Change.org.
By Friday afternoon, more than 700,000 signatures were collected.
Inspired by a flood of emails he received from constituents, Pennsylvania State Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Phila.), told the Philadelphia Inquirer he intends to introduce a bill that would deliver stiff penalties for those who conceal a child’s death and create a new offense of “neglecting to report a missing child,” said Farnese.
In Anthony’s home state of Florida, a similar law is being drafted by Representative Bill Hager.
In Oklahoma, Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said of his state’s proposed legislation, “It probably won’t be a deterrent to crime, but at least it’s something the prosecutors can charge someone with who’s violated the law. If this law was in Florida, Casey would have some more jail time to stand.”