WASHINGTON-The Rights of Families of Homicide Victims Act, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) unanimously passed the Senate on Monday. The bill, which previously authorized the House of Representatives, requires federal agencies to take a fresh look at federal cold cases. The bill requires federal law enforcement investigating or prosecuting murders to review a cold-blooded murder case to determine whether 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 to senseless murder deserve the opportunity to seek justice for the crime committed against them. This bill expands the rights of victims while providing the necessary transparency in the reopening of cold cases,” Grassley said.
“This legislation will help ensure that federal law enforcement sometimes reviews cold case files that are decades old and apply the latest investigative technologies and standards. This process will help bring resolution to grieving families in the midst of tragic circumstances, and I look forward to seeing this enacted into law,” Cornin said.
“Families should have the right to request a cold case review when improved forensics can help solve the crime, bringing much needed closure to bereaved parents. Our bill allows families to do just that – President Biden should sign it into law immediately,” cotton said.
Homicide Victims Families Rights Actwould require federal agencies to reassess unsolved cases and apply the latest investigative technologies and standards. The bill would also empower immediate family members to request a cold case review as long as it meets certain basic criteria. Federal agencies will be able to determine whether they have exhausted all possible leads or if the cold case application does not meet the standard of review, and federal law enforcement agencies would be required to provide annual reports in Congress about what works and doesn’t work with the cold. case reviews.
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 (DR .I.) and John Kennedy (R- The.).
The bill is supported by the National District Attorney Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Organization for Victim Assistance, Murder Accountability Project, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and other victims’ rights groups.