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Washington, D.C. — Today, the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act – a bill that will give more rights to the families of homicide victims in federal cases, passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

“I’m glad my colleagues in the House, on both sides of the aisle, agreed that we can and must do better for the families of homicide victims,” Rep. Swalwell said. “Advancing this bill means advancing justice and accountability so that grieving families have a better chance of getting the closure and healing they deserve.”

The Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act would give 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. If the federal investigator feels it would lead to probative leads, a full reinvestigation would then occur. The bill also would require the federal government to notify family members and similarly situated people of their rights, and to provide them with updates on any cold case review undertaken. It would also collect data on the problems with the cold cases.

“As a former federal prosecutor, I have seen the devastation unsolved crimes can have on victims’ families. Too often, they are left to grieve and never get the answers they deserve,” said Rep. McCaul. “I am proud to co-sponsor this bill and expand the rights of the families of homicide victims so they can have closure and healing.”

Swalwell and McCaul are both former prosecutors: Swalwell was an Alameda County, CA Deputy District Attorney, while McCaul was a federal prosecutor and a Texas Deputy Attorney General.

Swalwell and McCaul drafted the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act last year with the help of former federal prosecutors Glenn Kirschner and Katharine Manning, former U.S. Department of Justice senior attorney advisors who specializes in victims’ rights and services.

“As a career prosecutor, I’ve worked with hundreds of families who have lost a loved one to violent crime,” said Kirschner.  “When homicides go unsolved, the pain is compounded and can be unbearable for families,” said Kirschner. “This bill gives those families not just a voice but a legal right to request a review or full reinvestigation of the homicide of their loved one. Victims and their families deserve precisely the kind of right this bill delivers.”

The bill passed the House by a vote of 406-20.



To view the Congressman’s remarks on the House Floor, click here.


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