July 26, 2022
Grassley, Cornyn, Cotton Bill Requiring Federal Agencies to Bring Fresh Eyes to Cold Cases Set to Become Law
WASHINGTON – 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.
“Families 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.
“This 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.
“Families 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.
The 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.
Grassley works to support and protect victims’ rights in the Senate. This spring, he introduced the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act to support victims of human trafficking. He raised awareness for the needs of crime victims and their families through a resolution denoting National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in April. Grassley also has reintroduced the Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act which encourages states to adopt the same protections for survivors of state sex crimes that already exist at the federal level.
Grassley, 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.).
The 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.
The bill can be found HERE.
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