February 26, 2015

Whitehouse-Sessions Proposal Approved by Judiciary Committee

Measure Clarifying the Authority of Marshals Service to Assist Local and State law Enforcement Adopted as Part of Human Trafficking Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking (SETT) Act, legislation that would make sure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants but are instead treated as victims.  Included within the bill was a provision authored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that would 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 our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for supporting this proposal, and particularly Senator Klobuchar for supporting its inclusion in her bill.”

“Because of its mission to apprehend fugitives, the Marshals Service is unique among our federal law enforcement agencies in its ability to track and locate missing persons,” said Sessions.  “This legislation clearly establishes that Marshals are authorized to assist in cases of missing children, when asked by other law enforcement partners.  The provision included today expands on earlier bipartisan legislation adopted by Congress, and I’m glad it has been approved for consideration by the full Senate.  I want to thank Sen. Whitehouse for working with me on this legislation, and appreciate Sen. Klobuchar for including it in her bill.  This measure will save lives.”

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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