– The Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act,
introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) unanimously
passed the Senate Monday. The bill, which previously cleared the House of
Representatives, requires federal agencies to take a fresh set of eyes to
federal cold cases. The bill requires federal law enforcement that investigate
or prosecute murders to review a cold case murder file to determine if a full
reinvestigation would result in the identification of a likely perpetrator. The
bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.
who have lost a loved one due to a senseless act of murder deserve the
opportunity to seek justice for the crime committed against them. This bill expands
the rights of victims while providing needed transparency in the reopening of
cold cases,” Grassley said.
legislation will help ensure federal law enforcement reviews sometimes
decades-old cold case files and applies the latest technologies and
investigative standards. This process will help bring grieving families
resolution in the midst of tragic circumstances, and I look forward to this
being signed into law,” Cornyn said.
should have the right to ask for a review of a cold-case where an improvement
in forensics may help solve the crime, bringing long-deserved closure to bereaved
relatives. Our bill empowers families to do just that—President Biden should
sign it immediately,” Cotton said.
Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act
would require federal agencies to reevaluate cold cases and apply the most
up-to-date technologies and investigative standards. The bill would also
empower immediate family members to request a cold case review so long as it
meets certain basic criteria. Federal agencies will be able to determine if
they have exhausted all possible leads or the cold case request does not meet
the standard for review, and federal law enforcement agencies would be required
to provide annual reports to Congress on what is working and not working with
cold case reviews.
Cornyn and Cotton are joined by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Coons
(D-Del.), John Ossoff (D-Ga.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Sheldon Whitehouse
(D-R.I.) and John Kennedy (R-La.).
bill is supported by the National District Attorney Association, the Federal
Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Organization for Victim
Assistance, the Murder Accountability Project, the National Coalition Against
Domestic Violence, and other victims’ rights groups.
bill can be found HERE.