News release from House Republican Caucus:
(July 11, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Following the verdict of last week’s Casey Anthony
trial in Florida, a number of concerned Tennesseans have contacted Members of
the Tennessee General Assembly about strengthening State law to make it a felony
for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the
disappearance of a child within 24 hours. Current law has no penalty associated
with a failure to report a missing child.
“Last week’s verdict shows our law enforcement officials need additional tools
to ensure justice is attained in heartbreaking situations like what happened
with Caylee Anthony,” stated Representative Tony Shipley (R–Kingsport), who
today filed a bill, House Bill 2162, making it a class E felony to not report a
missing child. “By making this simple tweak to the law, we can encourage reports
of missing children in Tennessee to be filed timely and quickly. In the process,
we may end up saving a life and that makes this effort more than worthwhile.”
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Eric Watson
(R–Cleveland), added, “I am proud of the work of Representative Shipley and
others who want to act quickly with this legislation upon our return to
Nashville. I can make this promise: This bill will be our first priority when my
Committee convenes in January.”
After working over the last week, Rep. Shipley has already gathered a half dozen
signatures as original co-sponsors for the bill.
The verdict in the Casey Anthony case has created an online movement in
Tennessee. Representatives have reported receiving dozens of email messages from
constituents asking for action to be taken. Ms. Anthony failed to report her
daughter missing to local authorities for a month and Florida law does not
provide any penalties for this inaction.
UPDATE: Sen. Bill Ketron will be Senate sponsor of the bill. News release below.
News relefrom ase Senate Republican Caucus:
( NASHVILLE, TN), July 12, 2011 – Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) said today he will be the Senate sponsor of the Caylee Anthony legislation filed yesterday in the House of Representatives by Rep. Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport). The bill, which comes on the heels of the Casey Anthony verdict last week, aims to strengthen state law to make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours.
“I am very pleased to be sponsoring this proposal with Rep. Shipley,” said Senator Ketron. “The Casey Anthony trial has shined a bright light on the gap in many state’s laws, including Tennessee’s, regarding the reporting of a missing child. It should be unacceptable under our state law to not report a child’s disappearance as it hampers efforts to return them to safety, or in the most severe circumstance where death occurs, it greatly impacts law enforcement’s investigation.”
Ms. Anthony failed to report her daughter missing to local authorities for a month and Florida law does not provide any penalties for this inaction. Tennessee law also has no penalty associated with a failure to report a missing child. The Shipley/Ketron bill makes it a class E felony to not report a missing child.
Ketron was formerly President of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation associated with the National Exchange Club. He helped establish 122 child abuse prevention centers, including those located in Jackson, Memphis, Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tennessee. He was attending a national symposium of that group last week when the verdict was delivered. He said he immediately received dozens of email messages from constituents asking for legislative action to be taken.
Ketron also said he has spoken with Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kate O’Day regarding the need for the legislation.