SENATE APPROVES UNSOLVED CIVIL RIGHTS CRIME ACT
Today, Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), an original cosponsor, applauded his Senate colleagues as they passed by unanimous consent the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act as an amendment to the Commerce Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. This bill, written by Senators Jim Talent (R-MO) and Chris Dodd (D-CT), would create the Unsolved Crimes Section, an office within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, to focus specifically on unsolved Civil Rights-era murders. It would authorize up to $5 million annually for the new section.
"This measure helps shed light on a very dark time in our Nation's history," said Senator DeWine. "With the new section, when possible, we can bring to justice the people who committed horrendous crimes and have remained free for decades. The truth needs to come to light, and when possible, we must bring the guilty to justice."
The Unsolved Crimes Section will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting pre-1970 cases that resulted in death and remain unsolved. Working in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials, the Section Chief would be responsible for prosecuting these cases and would be required to report to Congress and the American people on their actions.
If a crime other than murder is discovered during the course of an investigation it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement officials. The Section would report its findings to Congress annually on September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.
Key Components of the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act:
NEW OFFICE FOCUSED ON UNSOLVED CIVIL RIGHTS MURDERS - The Unsolved Crimes Section will specifically target "cold case" murders from the Civil Rights-era. The bill would authorize up to $5 million annually for the new office.
SEEKING THE TRUTH - Through aggressive investigating, prosecuting and reporting, the new Unsolved Crimes Section will shed light on the unsolved deaths from the Civil Rights-era, allowing victims' families to rest easier knowing the truth.
PROSECUTE CRIMINALS - The mission of the Unsolved Crimes Section would be to aggressively investigate and prosecute criminals in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials.
REFERAL OF OTHER UNSOLVED CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS - If during the course of an investigation a crime other than murder is discovered, it will be promptly referred to the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
ACCOUNTABILITY TO CONGRESS - The Unsolved Crimes Section Chief will provide a report on its activities to Congress annually on September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.