Unfortunately, Ketron didn’t respond to an interview request before press deadline, so the story only quoted from his recent op-ed on the matter. But he did get back to Hale eventually. Here, in its oblique glory, is what Ketron had to say.
On the possibility of scenarios in which the law could ensnare parents with no ill intent: “The language says ‘knowingly refuse to make all reasonable efforts to report a missing child.’ So I would imagine that would cover that. ‘If a parent is physically able to do so and they fail to make or knowingly refuse to make all reasonable efforts to the appropriate authorities’.”
On whether the proposed law will be vetted by legal experts who can evaluate such scenarios: “I think the Judiciary Committee, I would assume it will probably be referred to that. That will be the lieutenant governor’s choice, obviously. I think we have several bright, brilliant minds in the Senate that will be able to appropriately vet that. ...
“If a child is not reported quickly, the investigation to recover the child is compromised, and in the event that the child is not living when the child is found, it compromises the investigation to figure out what happened to the child. That’s the point of the legislation. We’re not trying to make a value judgment on whether or not the verdict was correct or incorrect. The investigation was clearly compromised, which is the problem here. And that’s what we’re trying to solve.”
On whether the law would, at best, do work already done by laws against lying to police, abandoning a child, etc.: “We just feel that there’s a huge gap in the code when it comes to reporting missing children, and I think this rectifies that.”
On concerns that the law could result in an increase in erroneous missing child reports by parents who don’t want to risk receiving a criminal penalty if they don’t report: “Our focus is ensuring that the integrity of the case and the integrity of the search is provided for, and that there’s a penalty if it doesn’t occur. It’s all about protecting the integrity of the investigation.”
On whether and how Casey Anthony’s lies to police — for which she was convicted and penalized — affected the integrity of the investigation: “We would say that the integrity of the investigation was even more compromised by the time period between the child actually going missing and being reported missing. That was where the main compromising of the investigation occurred.”
On questions about whether this law would deter any negligent parent or one with bad intentions: “No, but at least there’s a penalty for that. … The code currently states that it is required that a parent report their child missing, there is just no punitive part of the statute. This creates a punitive part of the statute.”