Beware Jaycee's Law

Horrific crimes involving children can yield even more horrific laws. The abduction of Megan Kanka brought us Megan's law; Adam Walsh's death yielded the Adam Walsh law. There is something about the terror these sorts of crimes inspire that make us want to do something to make sure nothing like them can ever happen again. So we parse the requirements of justice with a meat clever, insuring that others get hurt in the process, as is the case with our scattershot approach to the public registration of all sorts of people as sex offenders.

It did not surprise me, therefore, to see legislation proposed in the wake of the Jaycee Dugard case. The woman was abducted 18 years ago as her horrified father watched. She was then kept prisoner all those years, forced to live in squalor. She bore two of her captor's children. The man accused of his holding her captive, Phillip Garrido, is a convicted sex offender; his wife, too, has been charged.

The case not merely horrifies, it also saddens. Neighbors of the Garrido's in Antioch, California, knew that something was up. The police missed clues. Mr. Garrido's parole officer was apparently asleep at the switch. In sum, this horror was preventable. If only...

If only what? If only people had acted on their hunches. Legislation proposed in three states last week would create a legal duty to act. Called Jaycees Care and Compassion Act, the legislation requires the following.

* A private person with reasonable suspicison to believe his neighbor is engaged in foul play has a legal duty to report this to the police. A person who fails to act can be charged with misprision of a felony.

* A private person with reasonable suspicion to believe his neighbor is engaged in foul play is permitted to demand permission to make a spot search of the neighbor's premises without liability for civil suit or criminal prosecution. A person searching must give the police 30 minutes notice, presumably so police can come, prevent a breach, and, if exigent circumstances arise, do a search of their own.

* Private parties have an affirmative obligation to act. A breach of this obligation supports a claim for civil damages. This claim can be brought either by the victim of any crime, or by the state's victim's advocate.

"We are our neighbor's keepers," said Millicent Truelove, the Idaho Democrat sponsoring the legislation. "This legislation is narrowly focused to require citizens to act, but to keep the state out of our homes. Who can object to a law that seeks merely to promote a broader sense of community?"

Now here is the kicker: This piece is satire, but you didn't suspect that unless you live in Idaho and know there is no such Democrat as Millicent Truelove serving as a lawmaker. Be wary, Jaycee's law is coming. It is merely a question of what form it will take,

Comments: (4)

  • now you can't simply go on with your life, live it...
    now you can't simply go on with your life, live it the way you see fit. Hurt no one in the must live your life and stick your nose in every one elses business and if you don't you can go to prison.
    Sounds like Nazi Germany all over you ask me.
    Posted on September 1, 2009 at 1:37 am by Anonymous
  • That is a shame that he was let out to harm Jaycee...
    That is a shame that he was let out to harm Jaycee.
    Posted on September 2, 2009 at 8:12 am by Joy Reed
  • it is very sad,what had happen to this poor woman....
    it is very sad,what had happen to this poor woman.nobody should ever go through any sexuall assault of any kind,but what has this country come to? these politicians will not commit political suicide,they rather commit social murder.and how the media drives on sad stories like this and is always so eager to point fingers at sexoffenders.does the public realy know,what exactly is a sexoffender now a days?these selfserving politicians will make anyone a offender,just to make the public believe,they are tough on crime with questionble motives.teenagers "sexting",teenagers asking girls, if they need a ride,consensual sex,peeing in the long do we let this nonesense go on?next the goverment will be setting up audio&video in our homes prosecuting all of us for what somone else is a hot topic for these hypocrite law makers,that go and pass laws and prosecute people in general and have sex with pages and in bathrooms with strangers,cheat on their spouses.these politicians supposed to work for us,instead they only work for themselves.the registry is not working, this man checked in and out,just like they told him.the registries are not making this land gives all of us a false sense of security.check it out for yourself don't let the media pass on this hype,educate yourself before it happens to your family...and at the rate we are going,it will happen. thanks for giving me this opportunity to voice my thoughts,renate ill rsol
    Posted on September 5, 2009 at 6:49 am by Anonymous
  • Perhaps if law enforcement wasn't so worried about...
    Perhaps if law enforcement wasn't so worried about tracking the non-violent sex offenders, they would have more time to watch over the "true" offenders. Teenagers are being forced to register as sex offenders for "consensual" sex and posting nude photos of themselves online. If the politicians would just clean up the registries, and only force those to register that are a true threat to society and our children, we could actually do what the registries intended in the first place - to ONLY monitor serious and repeat offenders. Do you think you or your family members wont wind up on the registry? It doesn't take much anymore. Want to know more, visit and see how our money is being wasted on monitering teens and those who have not committed any voilent crimes.
    Posted on September 5, 2009 at 10:06 am by Tonia

Add a Comment

Display with comment:
Won't show with comment:
What is the month?
*Comment must be approved and then will show on page.
© Norm Pattis is represented by Elite Lawyer Management, managing agents for Exceptional American Lawyers
Media & Speaker booking [hidden email]