State Pols Rush to Pass Laws Named for Caylee and Other Victims


At least 25 states have introduced or pledged to introduce versions of what has been dubbed Caylee’s Law, after a toddler found dead in Florida, reports USA Today. In at least 12 of those states, legislation has been introduced, but it has not yet become law anywhere. The bills are the latest effort to establish laws in the wake of high-profile crimes involving a young victim. “Is it a good way to draft law? No, it’s not,” says Frank Baumgartner, a political science professor. “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.”

Forty-four states have passed some version of Jessica’s Law, a measure establishing long mandatory sentences and life-long electronic monitoring for offenders, named after Jessica Lunsford, who was raped and murdered by a previously convicted sex offender in 2005. The 1994 murder of Megan Kanka in New Jersey led to Megan’s Law, requiring law enforcement agencies to make information about sex offenders public. It became federal law in 1996. Another academic, Arnold Shober, says politicians like to pass laws named after child victims, because they pull on people’s heart strings and the public is much more likely to support the legislation.

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