Caylee's Law Grows in Popularity; 25 States to Consider Proposal

Since Casey Anthony was cleared of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in July, the namesake law penalizing parents who do not report missing children within 24 hours is being considered in 25 different states, according to a USA TODAY survey. Critics say the law is specific to Anthony's case and is unnecessary.

New Jersey, Maryland and Oklahoma are among the 12 states that have introduced Caylee's Law into legislature, nearly two months after Anthony was found not guilty of killing her daughter. Another 13 state legislatures have pledged to introduce versions of the law, the publication noted.

However, the proposed law has not been enacted in any state. Critics said Anthony's behavior was extreme and rare. The proposed law, they conclude, addresses an overrated threat.

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Michelle Crowder created the Caylee's Law Petition. The petition calls for a federal law against parents who fail to notify authorities within 24 hours of a child's disappearance or within an hour of a child's death.

Several other laws have also been spawned from high-profile cases.

Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to make information about sex offenders public, was created after Megan Kanka, 7, was raped and murdered by her neighbor, a convicted child rapist.

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor emeritus with Johns Hopkins University, says headliner cases are sometimes the only way to pass laws.

Megan's Law was proposed in the New Jersey legislature one month after Kanka's death.

"This is not necessarily an unusual or even bad way to get things done," Crenson told the Gazette.

In Maryland, state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R- Abingdon) proposed Caylee’s law in the Maryland General Assembly, saying of the case, "It really grabs the attention of people and makes them aware that something needs to change."

However many questioned the need for Caylee's law.

Fellow Maryland state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Bethesda) said of the proposal, "If your kid is missing for a month and you do nothing about it, that's neglect."

Intentional child neglect is a criminal offense in Maryland.

William Meggs, a Florida state attorney, said of Caylee's law, "It only applies to people like [Casey Anthony] and fortunately those are not common everyday occurrences."

Frank Baumgartner, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, said that proposals like Caylee's law are a reflection of "an overreaction or a disproportionate attention to a problem."

Anthony, 25, was arrested in connection to her daughter's death after her mother, Cindy Anthony, called police in 2008 and told them she had not seen her grandchild in 31 days.

Casey Anthony told police her daughter was taken by a woman she claimed was the toddler's nanny. Detectives, however, never found alleged kidnapper Zenaida Gonzalez. Police eventually found the girl's body in a wooded area near the Anthony family home.

In July 2011, a jury found the 25-year-old Florida mother guilty of lying to a law enforcement officer. However jurors said there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Anthony murdered her daughter.

She was acquitted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter.

The verdict shocked the nation and drove more people to sign Crowder's petition. The petition has surpassed the 1 million mark, with 1,294,293 signatures.

Crowder is also raising money to purchase a Florida billboard urging for Caylee's law.

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