Signed into law: Caylee's Law, mandated health screenings and 'luring' a crime for the sex offender registry

At the end of each session in Springfield, bills that pass the legislature end up on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk awaiting his signature. We'll keep track of those that make it into law.

Creates “Caylee’s Law,” making it a felony to fail to report the death or disappearance of a child within 24 hoursSB 2537 was named after the case of Caylee Anthony, whose disappearance was not reported to authorities until a month after it happened. Caylee was eventually found dead. Her mother, Casey Anthony, was found not guilty of first degree murder. The legislation stipulates that the bill applies to the disappearance of a child under 13 years old, and that a caseworker can also be considered a “public official” to report a disappearance to. At least eight other states have introduced similar legislation. Some critics have argued that it could hurt innocent parents.

Require behavioral health screenings for people with mental health and substance abuse disordersHB 3893 expands the services reimbursed under the State’s medical assistance program to include behavioral health screenings for individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems. These required screenings will be used to consider at an individual’s need for intervention or treatment. The language of the legislation particularly notes that substance abuse and mental health problems must be considered together. Mental health activists applauded that approach, saying often only one of the two issues is diagnosed. In addition, activists have argued that individuals with substance abuse issues should not be criminalized, as they may have mental health problems.

Individuals can be placed on the sex offender registry for luring or attempted luring of a minorHB 5280 adds another offense that will get an individual’s name placed on the publicly available electronic sex offender registry. As well as having one’s name publicly accessible, the registry also places limitations on where an individual can live in relation to schools and playgrounds. Even though the attempted luring of a minor would not necessarily result in a sexual assault, an individual’s name would still be placed on the registry.

 

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  • These laws all have good intentions but apparently fail to consider the difference between laws' intentions and practical effects.

    1. Caylee's law doesn't do anything positive. It may result in indictments for grieving parents, but it isn't as if a parent was going to leave their childs disappearance unreported, but oh wait, there's that law about it, so maybe they suddenly decide they'd better report it. Just another body to fill the system with, but if the intention of the law is to prevent irresponsible behavior then it utterly fails. Another problem: at what point does the 24 hours start? The concept 'missing' implies that the person doesn't know where they are, but if nobody knows yet that they don't know where an individual is, then are they missing? Does a person need to be conscious that there's a problem before the clock starts? Sounds like lots of legal fees and no convictions until more case law is decided. How do you prove consciousness of death/disappearance? This law seriously risks jailing parents who thought their child was somewhere they weren't or wanted to be sure before reporting to the authorities, etc.

    2. What does the word "required" mean in terms of the mental health screenings? Can mentally unstable people be required to submit for screening just by virtue of their existence? Should we really write laws that provide the justification for arresting a person for anything because that person might be associated with that which cannot be proven?

    3. The sexual offender registry is weakened by the over-lengthening of the list of reasons for inclusion. What does "luring" mean? Sounds like more litigation, and more instances of parents who offer their childs chums a candy bar being put on the same list as child molesters. If the real crime cannot be proven, then is "luring" then the substitute? Is "luring" evil because it could be used for nefarious purposes, or is the crime that comes after what is really evil? Is "luring" still evil if a surprise party is waiting at the end???

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