12.18.12

Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Investigations of Missing Children and Sex Offenders

Bill clarifies the authority of U.S. Marshals to assist local and state law enforcement agencies

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the United States Senate passed the Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act of 2011 (S. 1792), which makes it clear that the U.S. Marshals Service has authority, upon request, to assist state and local law enforcement in investigating missing children cases. The bill was introduced last year by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and was cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). It passed the Senate unanimously yesterday evening.

“When children go missing, the window of opportunity to track them down is very narrow,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill authorizes the U.S. Marshals Service to use its extensive experience and sophisticated tools to assist local and state law enforcement officials with quickly identifying and locating missing children. I was proud to sponsor this common-sense legislation to help keep our children safe.”

“It has long been a priority of mine to make it easier for law enforcement to track down violent sexual predators and protect vulnerable members of society,” said Senator Sessions. “The Marshals’ capabilities and expertise is a key asset in these cases. This bipartisan legislation makes it explicitly clear that the Marshals Service has the authority to aid other law enforcement agencies in these types of investigations and thus may help to save many innocent lives. I hope this bill will be quickly signed into law, and I thank Senator Whitehouse for his efforts on this important measure.”

The U.S. 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 bill provides explicit authorization for such assistance, and also clarifies the authority of the Marshals Service to assist other law enforcement agencies in investigating sex offender cases. The bill does not expand federal jurisdiction or create new crimes.

The bipartisan measure, which was also cosponsored by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in December of 2011.

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