By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN - It’s no secret that the not guilty of first degree murder verdict handed down by a Florida jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial two weeks ago has sparked a strong reaction and national attention.
Now, because of that verdict, local lawmakers are considering introducing a petition known as Caylee’s Law at the beginning of the next Rhode Island legislation session.
The legislation, which has gone viral, is inspired by Caylee, the daughter of Anthony, and would make it a felony if a parent, legal guardian or caretaker doesn’t notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours.
Legislation has already been introduced in various states including Florida, California, New York and Colorado.
The State House is in recess and will reconvene in October to discuss state pensions, but come January when the new session begins, this proposed bill will be submitted.
“If no one steps forward and submits this bill then I will,” North Kingstown Rep. Doreen Costa said. “But, if someone does, I’ll back them 100 percent. Ever since someone started this petition, I’ve been receiving 30 to 60 emails daily from around the state and country, from people urging us to get this heard.”
The petition was started by Oklahoma resident Michelle Crowder so there would be “no more cases like Casey Anthony’s in the courts and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.”
In addition, it would also make 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 one hour of said death being discovered.
Though the proposed bill has received a lot of attention, Costa knows there’s a lot of work to be done before it gets passed. Specific guidelines need to be ironed out to determine what penalties would be implemented and what the time limit would be for a person to report a child missing.
“I personally don’t understand how someone could not report their child missing right away,” she said. “When my daughter was around three years old, we were in Wal-Mart and she hid in a coat rack. I turned my head for a second and she was gone. I frantically ran around the store looking for her. It was scary.”
Costa called this case “tragic” and hopes state representatives will support this.
For more information on Caylee’s Law or to sign the petition, visit www.change.org/petitions/create-caylees-law .