Thursday, December 08, 2005

12/8/05 Taking Action--Part I

We've spent many days over the course of the last couple of weeks presenting another side of the missing persons issue: the deceased. We've heard the story of Jennifer's mom and her personal battle not just for her daughter, but for all who might be in this situation. We learned of Pat and Todd's tragic stories of needless, endless waiting and the loss of their missing loved ones.

While we cannot turn back the hands of time and bring back Bill or Alex and prevent the injustice to their families, we can do something so that these things do not occur again. This same solution will also impact other apsects of the missing person puzzle in respect to action taken by authorities.

I have spoken about this before, but as of this moment, only one person has come forward and is serious about taking action. I need at least one person in each and every state to step forward and get it started. This is state legislation. As we read in Jennifer's story, federal authorities are reluctant and refuse to force the states to follow suit, therefore the law must be passed in each and every state.

I need someone who is willing to find a senator in their own state to sponsor this law. Once they agree, they usually take it from there, but the people will need to assist. Families of the missing will need to come forward and rally together to make it clear why we need this. Remember, working together, we can accomplish so much. We can make a difference. Don't let more UID's be thrown into pauper's graves or cremated and discarded like the weekly trash. Help them to come home!

In case you are curious, the one person who is already taken action on this is Kathy Holloway, mother of missing Jennifer Wix and missing granddaughter, Adrianna. We featured her story here:
Kathy is already in discussion with her state senator, so mark down TN as being covered. Thank you, Kathy.

I am going to show you the main points in this law and add my commentary and explanations as needed. It is too lengthy for one post, and for today, I just want you to read a summary, as prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice:

"Each year families in the United States struggle with the agony of having to report a missing loved one. Far too often missing persons investigations grow cold, leaving many to cope with this loss. Historically, the law enforcement community's ability to locate and ensure a safe return of those missing has been hampered by an inability to share resources and information when conducting investigations and identifying remains.

In collaboration with experts representing State and local law enforcement, policymakers, forensic scientists, medical examiners and coroners, and crime victims, the U.S. Department of Justice has developed model State legislation. This model legislation seeks to address the national problems of missing persons and the identification of human remains. For cases involving missing persons, law enforcement's ability to locate and ensure a safe return must be improved. Law enforcement must be granted additional tools to identify high-risk missing persons cases and promptly disseminate critical information to other law enforcement agencies and the public. This model legislation provides framework for improving law enforcement's response.

Unfortunately, even with the best law enforcement practices, not all missing persons cases can result in a safe return. Families of missing persons feared dead often seek to know the fate of their loved ones-this can often at least be a means of closure. The process can be complicated as the failure to identify homicide victims makes criminal prosecution very difficult.

This model legislation provides comprehensive approach to these difficult issues. It suggests ways States can improve the collection of critical information about missing persons, prioritize high-risk missing persons cases, and ensure prompt dissemination of critical information to other law enforcement agencies and the public that can improve the likelihood of a safe return. At the same time, this model legislation suggests an approach for collecting information during the missing persons reporting process that can later be used to help identify human remains.

The model legislation will also ensure that information that could help identify human remains is promptly collected and reported to national databases. Specifically, the model legislation suggests a mechanism for improving death scene investigations, centralizing within the State the reporting of unidentified remains, ensuring the delivery of human remains to an entity that can conduct an appropriate examination, ensuring the timely reporting of identifying information to national databases, and maximizing available resources that can reduce the cost of identifications.

This model legislation does not represent the only approach to these difficult issues. Some States have existing statutory schemes that address some or all aspects of these problems. In addition, some of these issues can be addressed through training and executive policy making. The Department of Justice encourages States to review and adapt this model legislation to meet their particular needs and existing laws."

If you've ever thought about doing something to help, now is the time to take that first step and start this process in your state. You never could end up helping someone you know and love.

To get started, here is a helpful link used to look up your state senator: Simply choose your state in the selection box to your left, then choose "legislature" to your right, and click on the "get links" button.

We'll continue on Friday with a review of the model legislation.


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