Governor Bentley Signs Caylee's Law

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By Alabama News Network

 Alabama joined about 10 other states today with the signing of what's called "Caylee's law."

The law makes it easier to prosecute parents who don't report their children missing.

The new law comes after Casey Anthony trial. She was acquitted of the murder of her daughter Caylee in Florida two years ago, but she didn't report the girl missing for about a month.

Lawmakers tried to get this bill passed last year, but time ran out. Governor Bentley said this was a priority for him this year.

"It's a little unique the way it's set up but it's very important we need to protect our children," said Governor Bentley. 

Florida was one of the first states to make a Caylee's Law. Their version makes it a crime to lie to law enforcement about a missing child. Alabama's is a little different. 

"It really is unique in that we didn't get tied up in how long do you have to wait before it's appropriate to report a child as missing. We just said if the child is missing and the parent fails to report it with reckless disregard for the child then the parent can be prosecuted," said Senator Bryan Taylor.

Many people assumed that a law like this already existed, but Alabama Children First says it's glad it finally is in our state.

"The safety and well being of our children in the state of Alabama should be our first priority. When children come up missing the first point of contact should be their parents. So it just makes sense that we would have a law to require reporting them missing if that happens," said Christy Mehaffey, Alabama Children First's Executive Director.

State Representative Juandalynn Givan helped craft the bill with Senator Taylor. She wanted to make sure the bill helped prosecute negligent parents as well as help missing children. 

"This bill is not just about notifying the authorities about a child missing but it's also to assist with the preservation of evidence. When a child is missing the first one second is just as critical as a 24 hour span," said Representative Givan.

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