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Caylee’s Law – Just Say No

Following the acquittal in the Casey Anthony trial there has been a public outrage and furor which has resulted in a nation-wide call for Caylee’s Law.  This law would make it a crime for a parent to wait more than 24 hours to report a child missing.
Had the verdict been guilty of murder, this misguided crusade to protect children would likely not have been initiated. 
There were actually two trials occurring at the same time.  One was the trial in the courtroom, with the jury seeing all the evidence, hearing all the testimony and rendering a verdict absent the influence of Nancy Grace and the media.  The second was the trial of public opinion, with the media led lynch mob convicting Casey Anthony of murder before even the first witness was called.  Sequestering the jury was a wise decision.
When the verdict on the murder charge was read as not guilty, the blood lust of the public lynch mob went without it’s pound of flesh and the mob cried out for some form of justice.  People started petitions, made Facebook groups, sent tweets on Twitter and used other social media forums to express their outrage and vent their frustration at the perceived injustice.  A murderer was being set free.  A child murderer.
At least four states, and perhaps more by now, have had legislators announce their intention to introduce bills in various versions of Caylee’s Law.  Most require a parent to report missing children within a given time frame, while the Massachusetts version would make it a crime for a parent to not report a child’s death.
The truth is, no version of  Caylee’s Law will do anything to protect children.  All the petitions and proposed bills are merely attempts to make people feel better.
First, Caylee’s Law will do absolutely nothing to punish Casey Anthony, which is what the public really wanted and expected.  Second, it will not stop parents from being horrible parents like Casey Anthony.  Third, it will not save even one child.  Had such a law been on the books prior to Caylee’s death would she still be alive?  No.  Had such a law been on the books would the prosecution have been able to convict Casey of murder?  No.  This proposed law is about punishment; not saving children.  If a parent was not going to report their child missing within 24 hours or report the death of a child, this law would not change their decision.
Additionally, there is a potential 5th Amendment problem.  The 5th Amendment to the Constitution says, “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  How can a parent who has murdered their own child be charged with violating Caylee’s Law when the only way to follow it would be to incriminate themselves by reporting the death? 
The wave of anger that created the drive to enact Caylee’s Law will subside in time.  The 24 hour media will move on to the next outrage and the public will follow.  In the mean time, enacting yet another unnecessary law merely to satisfy the unresolved anger of the mob would be a mistake.  No children will be saved by this law.
Justice should not be influenced by emotion and anger is the driving force behind Caylee’s Law.  If anyone disputes that I will ask one question.  Was there any petition, Facebook page, tweet or any other mention of Caylee’s Law before the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial?  No.

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