Kissel seeks ‘Caylee’s law’ after Anthony trial

July 12, 2011

Article as it appeared in the Journal Inquirer on July 12, 2011
By Ed Jacovino

HARTFORD — Parents who delay reporting a missing child in Connecticut should face criminal charges, and it should be a felony to lie to authorities in a case involving a missing child, Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, said Monday.

Kissel — who said he’ll propose a “Caylee’s law” during next year’s legislative session — made the remarks in response to the Casey Anthony trial in Florida. A jury last week found Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee, in 2008.

Caylee was missing for 31 days before her death was reported. Anthony was convicted of misleading investigators, a misdemeanor in Florida.

“After the verdict was rendered in the Anthony case, my constituents began urging me to review and to bolster our Connecticut laws,” Kissel said. “This proposal will oblige parents and guardians to promptly report disappearances. It will also cause people to think twice before making false statements to law enforcement authorities.”

The law would apply to parents, guardians, or caretakers of children. Kissel’s proposal would make it a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly fail to report to authorities that a child is missing. A Class A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a maximum $2,000 fine.

Knowingly making a false statement or misrepresenting a fact in a case involving a missing child would be a Class D felony. A Class D felony carries a sentence of one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Kissel said his proposal would save children’s lives. “When a child goes missing, every second counts,” he said.

Kissel is the ranking Senate Republican on the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. But he’ll have to get majority Democrats to agree to the proposal when the legislative session begins in February, as the committee’s Democratic chairmen would have to call the measure as a “committee bill.”

“What we saw play out in Florida was heartbreaking, and if we can strengthen our state laws in this area, we should,” Kissel said. “The question is: What can we do in Connecticut to better protect our children from similar injustices?’”