Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why I do not support "Caylee's Law'

I've been reading about 'Caylee's Law' all day long. For those who haven't heard, Caylee's law is a proposal that would make it a criminal offense (a felony) not to report a missing child within a certain amount of time. The idea, of course, is that valuable time that could have been spent searching for the child is sometimes lost when a parent doesn't notify police of a missing child immediately.

I do not support this law.

The more I read about it, from its name on up, the movement smacks of an end run around the justice system. Most people believe Casey Anthony murdered her child and got away with it and this seems like a way to make sure that, if the situation ever raises its head again, we'll 'at least get them for *something*'. It's a way to make sure that, when the jury process doesn't work the way we want, we have a way to still exact revenge.

Think about this for a moment: let's say you've just murdered your own child. Are you likely to call the police and report them missing or are you more likely to hide the body and remain quiet about it? If you've murdered your child, the last thing you want is police involvement.

Now, let's say you wake up one morning to discover your child missing. You have no idea what happened to them, where they are, or when they disappeared. All you know is that, when you went to bed the night before, they were there and now they aren't. You are, because you have not murdered your own child, fairly likely to call the police and report them missing.

Likely but not certain.

A parent losing a child is a devastating thing. In the moment, the only thing you are thinking about is finding them and you're not thinking rationally or clearly at all. Communication with loved ones is muddied, thought processes are impaired, and there is a chance that you may not call the police Sure, it's a slim chance and one you're probably all sitting there thinking 'no way, I KNOW I'd call the cops!' but how do you know? Unless you've lost a child, you can't know. I don't know. I'd like to think I would but I don't know how I'd react until I am faced with the situation.

The problem was this law is twofold: It's a way to exact revenge when we know someone is guilty but gets away with a child's murder and it will put innocent, emotionally overwhelmed, parents in jail If Caylee's law is passed, it will only add to family heartache, not resolve it.

I urge you to consider what I've written. On the surface, supporting such a law sounds like a rational and caring thing to do. But it's not. It's reckless and irresponsible. It's an emotional response to smelling blood that we were waiting to be spilled but never was. And I say that with the full belief that Casey Anthony got away with murder.

People complain about the justice system not working for the 'little man'. In this case, it did. Whether Casey is guilty or not, the prosecution did a horrible job at proving their case. When that happens, it is a juries job to acquit the accused. Many of the jurors probably believed Casey was guilty too, but they did their job anyway and acquitted her based on evidence and arguments.

This law would lay our entire jury system to waste and I simply cannot support doing that much damage. It sucks that Caylee Anthony is dead and that her mother likely got away with murder. I have the same taste for blood and feel the same rage you do in this case. But the failure wasn't of the justice system here, it was of the prosecution.

In the end, no law or rule is going to fix that. Better, more prepared prosecutors can do that.

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