One Alabama lawmaker has proposed legislation to make false abduction a felony. The proposal comes after the false kidnapping case of 26-year-old Carlee Russell made national news. The promising nursing student supposedly went missing after calling 911 to report a toddler wandering on the side of a highway. Search parties were held statewide before Russell returned home about two days later and told police she was abducted before fighting her way to freedom.
Russell, in a statement her lawyer provided to authorities, later admitted she had not been abducted. Local authorities then charged her with two misdemeanors for lying about her own kidnapping. She turned herself in and was released on a $2,000 bond, $1,000 for each charge. She faces a maximum of one year in prison.
“This fictitious kidnapping caused fear and shock not only throughout the legislative district I represent but also throughout our state and nation,” Alabama state Sen. April Weaver, a Republican, said in a statement, according to Yahoo! News. “Individuals who concoct and carry out sham kidnappings and lead our law enforcement officers on wild goose chases must be given severe penalties for their deceptive actions.”
Weaver she said she plans to prefile the bill ahead of the 2024 regular session, which is scheduled to meet again in February 2024. The bill will include substantial prison sentences and mandatory restitution requirements for the full costs of resources used by law enforcement agencies during the search for fake abductees.
Steve Marshall, Alabama’s attorney general, has already said if Russell is convicted, he’ll look to recover the costs spent during her disappearance.
Two other Alabama lawmakers, Reps. Juandalynn Givan, a Democrat, and Republican Leigh Hulsey, also said they are working on legislation to enhance penalties for lying about an abduction, according to WBRC. The duo didn’t share many details of what the bill would include.