And all of this with little or no thought, study, research, or debate on the need for a new law. (Or a new, harsh mandatory minimum and its possible unintended consequences.)
And it is, indeed, Casey Anthony that is sparking a new tidal wave of "Caylee's Law" proposals across the country, as this article from USAToday describes.
The bills are the latest effort to establish laws in the wake of high-profile crimes involving a young victim. These laws, which are generally supported by child advocates, have prompted some critics to wonder whether it's appropriate to legislate in the heat of the moment.
"Is it a good way to draft law? No, it's not," says Frank Baumgartner, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina. "The problem with this is, it's kind of a reflection of what you can call an overreaction or a disproportionate attention to a problem that's probably always been there." ...
In Illinois, state Rep. Dwight Kay, a Republican, says the Anthony case caught the nation's attention and it caught his attention. He says he doesn't know how often missing or dead children go unreported, but a law is needed in his state. "We saw it in Florida; we need to prevent it in Illinois."
When lawmakers don't know for sure that something is a problem, they're supposed to stop and find out before they pass a new law. Here's hoping Illinois does.
With 2.3 million people in our prisons and thousands upon thousands of criminal laws on our books, we need to have a better approach to legislating than overreaction. Is what happened in the Casey Anthony case sad and unacceptable? Yes. Does it require new laws? Perhaps. Is it too much to ask that lawmakers slow down and actually answer that question before they create a new law? I hope not.