Hooker testifies in support of Caylee’s Law bill in House Criminal Justice Committee

Categories: Hooker News,News

State Rep. Tom Hooker this week appeared before the House Criminal Justice Committee to garner his colleagues’ support for a legislation package he authored to ensure mandatory reporting for children who are missing or deceased.

House Bill 4163 makes failing to report a missing child or death of a child to law enforcement agencies a criminal offense for the parent or guardian. A companion bill, HB 4164, establishes sentencing guidelines for the crime.

“This is about protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” said Hooker, R-Byron Center. “The death or disappearance of a child is heartbreaking enough, but to realize that no one cares enough to even report it and seek help is deplorable.  This level of callousness cannot go unpunished.”

Hooker said he initially introduced the bills after the Casey Anthony trial in 2011, during which it was revealed that Casey failed to report her 2-year-old daughter Caylee missing for more than a month.  Another case in St. Johns, Mich., hit closer to home when a mother allowed her 10-year-old daughter to decompose in her bed for more than three months until Child Protective Services workers discovered her body.

“This is common-sense legislation, and what’s more, it is morally imperative legislation,” Hooker said.  “Eleven states enacted this type of law last year, and it is currently pending in legislatures in eight others.  The time to act is now, before another innocent child suffers this type of injustice.”

HB 4163 requires the reporting to a police agency or emergency service provider of the death of a minor immediately and the reporting of a missing child within 24 hours of the disappearance.  A minor is someone who has yet to reach their 18th birthday and a child someone who has yet to reach their 13th birthday.  Failure to do so results in a felony punishable by not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $5,000.00 or both.