Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
It has been more than six years since Casey Anthony was tried and acquitted of killing her daughter, Caylee, in Florida.
The case sparked national news coverage with figures like Nancy Grace leading new broadcasts about the trial.
Several Pennsylvania lawmakers are hoping to use the memory of that case to increase penalties for people who attempt to conceal the death of their children.
House Bill 487, introduced by Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh County; Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne County; Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver County; and Rep. Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna County, would change the crime of concealing the death of a child from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.
This would increase the maximum penalty from the current five years in prison and a $10,000 fine to seven years in prison with a $15,000 fine.
“As you know, during the highly publicized trial of Casey Anthony, which took place in Florida, the evidence disclosed that Ms. Anthony waited almost a month before reporting her child, Caylee missing,” the representatives wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “She later claimed that Caylee had drowned accidentally but didn’t report it as she was afraid of her family’s reaction. Since then, there has been a public outcry over Ms. Anthony’s concealment of Caylee’s death, even if it were accidental as she claimed.”
Along with increasing the severity, the bill, dubbed Caylee’s Law, would change the law’s language to expressly apply to any person in “position of responsibility for a child.”
The co-sponsorship letter argues the current law can be interpreted to apply only to biological parents.
There have been no cases involving concealing the death of child in Cumberland, Perry or Franklin county since at least 2010, according to court records.