Alexander Says Civil Rights Crime Act Will Help Bring Justice to Unsolved Cases

Says Bill He Cosponsored Will Create Offices to Investigate, Prosecute Civil Rights-Era Murders

Posted on September 24, 2008

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that Senate passage of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, of which he is a cosponsor, will ensure that unsolved murders from the Civil Rights era can be thoroughly investigated. “Solving these cases and making sure justice is done should help to heal some of the ugly scars of the past,” said Alexander, who also cosponsored the measure when it was first introduced in the Senate in 2006. “Equal opportunity for all Americans is at the front of our goals in this country. I’m glad that this bill has finally passed the Senate and I’m proud to have been a cosponsor.” The legislation will create the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office, a new FBI office headed by a Chief Investigator, to focus specifically on investigating unsolved Civil Rights era murders in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. The bill also creates the Unsolved Crimes Section, a new office within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which will focus on prosecuting pre-1970 cases that resulted in death and still remain unsolved. The Civil Rights Division would be responsible for prosecuting these cases in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials, and would be required to report to Congress annually. Key Components of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act (H.R. 923): ? NEW OFFICES FOCUSED ON UNSOLVED CIVIL RIGHTS MURDERS – The Unsolved Crimes Section and the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office will specifically target murders from the Civil Rights era. ? SEEKING THE TRUTH – Through aggressive investigation, prosecution and reporting, the new Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office and the Unsolved Crimes Section will shed light on the unsolved murders from the Civil Rights era, allowing victims’ families to rest easier knowing the truth. ? INVESTIGATE UNSOLVED MURDERS – The mission of the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office is to aggressively investigate unsolved murders in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. ? PROSECUTE CRIMINALS – The mission of the Unsolved Crimes Section is to aggressively prosecute criminals in coordination with state and local law enforcement officials. ? REFERRAL 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 Chief will provide a report on its activities to Congress annually on September 30th, the end of the federal fiscal year. ? COMMUNITY RELATIONS SERVICE – Includes an additional $1.5 million per year for the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice to partner with local communities to prevent and resolve racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders. ? EXPERTISE IN REVIEWING MISSING CHILDREN COLD CASES – Allows Inspectors General to authorize staff to assist the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by conducting reviews of inactive case files and developing recommendations for further investigations. H.R. 923 passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The bill was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.).