McCaul Bill to Help Solve Growing Number of Homicide Cold Cases Passes Senate, Will be Signed into Law
Last week the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act – a bipartisan bill introduced by Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and I to help solve our country’s growing number of homicide cold cases, passed the United States Senate and will now head to President Biden’s desk to become law.
After thirty years, we still do not know who is responsible for murdering four teenage girls at a yogurt shop in Austin, Texas. By passing this legislation, we are providing not only hope, but resources to those who lost family members to federal murder cases in order to ensure cold cases do not stay that way. I remain optimistic states will follow Congress’ lead and enact similar legislation on the state level. Hopefully, this will give families the answers, justice, and closure they need. I urge President Biden to sign this into law as soon as possible.
“Far too many homicides in our country are going unsolved, leaving families and communities devastated,” said Swalwell. “As a former prosecutor, I am hopeful that my bill will help give grieving families some closure and allow them to move one step closer toward the healing and justice they deserve.”
The Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act will give the relatives of homicide victims the right to have their loved one’s federal case file reviewed after the case has gone cold for three years. A full reinvestigation will occur to ensure the case file is updated with the latest technologies if helpful to obtaining new evidence or probative leads. The bill will increase lines of communication between law enforcement and families to provide them with updates on their lost loved one’s case file. It will also collect data on common problems with homicide cases to help increase clearance of cold cases.
Using FBI data, the Murder Accountability Project calculated that the percentage of homicides for which someone is criminally charged has steadily declined from over 90 percent in 1965 to under 65 percent in 2018 – resulting in more than 250,000 Americans becoming the victims of a cold case since 1980.
Following the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act passage in the House of Representatives in March, U.S. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) led efforts in the Senate, where it passed unanimously Monday.