June 4, 2015

President Obama Signs Law Containing Sen. Whitehouse Provision on Missing Children Investigations

RI Senator’s Provision will Enable U.S. Marshals to Assist in Investigations

Washington, DC – On Friday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, legislation to provide additional resources for victims of human trafficking.  Included within the final bill was a provision authored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that will provide explicit authorization for the U.S. Marshals Service to assist other law enforcement agencies, upon request, in investigating missing children cases.

The Marshals Service is often called on by state and local law enforcement officials, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to assist in investigating missing children cases.  This provision makes it clear that the Marshals Service has the express statutory authority to provide such assistance.  It does not expand federal jurisdiction or create new crimes.

“When a child goes missing, we need to put every resource we have into action,” said Whitehouse.  “For decades, the U.S. Marshals Service has played a critical role in the recovery of missing children.  We must ensure that we can continue to rely on the Marshals’ sophisticated tools and experience when they are needed most.  I thank President Obama for signing this important measure into law, and my colleague Senator Sessions for being its fellow champion.”

Whitehouse and Sessions introduced legislation in 2011 to clarify the Marshals Service’s role in missing children cases as well as investigations involving an individual who violates a sex offender registration requirement.  The bipartisan bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in 2012, but not taken up by the House.  The provision relating to sex offenders was subsequently included in other legislation and signed into law.


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