Like Day Follows Night, Meet Caylee's Law
There are more than 50,000
I’m writing to propose that a new law be put into effect making it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the death of their child, accidental or otherwise, within 1 hour of said death being discovered. This way there will be no more cases like Casey Anthony’s in the courts, and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.
Also, make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours, so proper steps can be taken to find that child before it’s too late.
Called "Black Swan" laws, even in cursory form, Josh notes some faults:
1 Hour! And if someone tells the police on the 61st minute, they go to jail. 24 hours! What about a sleepover in the woods?
On a more serious note, if a parent was inclined to murder her child, would fear of a prosecution under this law stop her? Would the sentence be death plus a year?
This compulsion to avenge a tragedy involving a child by crafting yet another law to deal with a situation already fully covered (as in murder) has produced a basic rule that any law named after a dead child is invariably a bad exercise of legislative fiat. It's not the intended consequences I fear, but the unintended ones. And there are always unintended ones.
Josh calls this the Ted Frank Rule (for which Josh links to himself, something he does an awful lot), because he first heard of it when Ted reiterated the rule that' the rest of us (Ted included) have discussed for years. He bolsters his opposition by
express[ing] skepticism of any law named after the victim of a crime–these laws are “poor public policy enacted by legislators who confuse voting against a law with voting against an innocent person.” Who would vote against Caylee?
All good reasons to think this another terribly misguided law, and indeed, it is. Plenty of room for mischief and little hope of serving any real purpose. No, this law would not have "saved" Caylee Anthony, no matter what happened to her.
But it can happen.
This is a huge promotional opportunity for politicians across the country, to grab all those folks feeling disaffected by the verdict and make a run for their hearts, if not their minds. While Josh makes good, solid, rational points, he misses the mark. This isn't about an appeal to reason, but an appeal to emotion.
Are legislators so stupid as to believe that enactment of this misguided law will accomplish anything? Well, no doubt some are. There's no intelligence test required for election to office. But others will know that this is just pandering, and will do so with gusto.
And the champions of Caylee's Law will be the heroes of many, and raise vast funds for re-election, even though they will be a shoo-in. And will go on to higher office. And will have statues of them erected in the village square. Because no one could possibly be against Caylee Anthony.
I predict a run on stop watches for parents. You can never be too careful.
H/T Walter Olson