The introduction of competing “Caylee’s Law” bills in the state legislature is proof that the political system is broken, said the man who was one of the driving forces behind the sex offender registry that is now law in all 50 states.
Richard Kanka, whose daughter Megan was murdered by a convicted sex offender, spurring the passage of Megan’s Law, said if legislators from competing parties can’t even agree on how best to protect children, something is wrong with the process. Kanka is running for state Senate in the 14th District.
“The Legislature is so partisan, they can’t even agree on a bill to protect missing children. The broken political process in Trenton proves that it’s time for new people. We have the same problem with job creation and property tax rebates, everyone in the Legislature tries to politicize the issue and no one works to solve problems,” he said. “Megan’s Law was about uniting governors and legislators from both parties in order to protect our children from predators. We had help from Republicans and Democrats because the goal was to do the right thing, regardless of who got the credit.”
So far, Trenton lawmakers have introduced three bills that would make it a crime to fail to report a death or for a parent or guardian to fail to report a missing child within 24 hours.
Democrats were first out of the box with a bill that would make failing to report a fourth-degree crime and Republicans countered with stiffer penalties. That first bill is co-sponsored by Kanka’s opponent in the upcoming election, state Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), of Plainsboro. A third bill was heralded by sponsor Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, (D-28), as the most stringent yet, as it would close the reporting window to 12 hours.
The bills are all in response to the case of Caylee Anthony, a 2-year-old Florida girl who disappeared in June 2008. Her mother, Casey Anthony, did not report her daughter missing for a month. Casey Anthony was indicted on murder charges in her daughter’s death.
Anthony was acquitted of murder earlier this month, but lawmakers throughout the nation have rushed to introduce laws to make failure to report a missing child a crime.