Friday, January 22, 2010

Billy's Law (The Help Find The Missing Act) can also assist in Human Trafficking cases

"Help Find The Missing Act" can assist in Human Trafficking cases 

This month has been designated Human Trafficking Awareness Month. It's only fitting that Janice Smolinski speak at the Judiciary Committee Hearing scheduled for January 21st in hopes of pushing forward "The Help Find The Missing Act" HR3695 (Billy's Law). 

Though Billy's case is not a Human Trafficking case, Billy's Law does point out and seek to rectify certain issues that may also be attributed to the lack of known or under-reported trafficking cases.( i.e. lack of shared knowledge or databases and lack of reporting requirements for missing persons over 20.)

Report in the states:

At a Human Trafficking Awareness day event in Myrtle Beach Kelly O'Neill-Bagwell, president of EECHAT said she was looking at a map of instances of alleged trafficking and was struck by how few cases appeared in South Carolina. After talking to law enforcement officials, she said she found out that wasn't because it didn't happen here, but that no one was reporting them and victims weren't coming forward.
"We would be sticking our heads in the sand to think that it wasn't happening inside of South Carolina," said Lt. Buddy Wilkes with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. "I think that awareness and accurate instance numbers go hand in hand. It's a Catch-22 in some ways. You have to increase awareness to get people to come forward and record accurate statistics. In some ways you have to have those statistics to convince people that it's a problem they need to be aware of."
Other states have also reported few trafficking arrests despite new laws. Likewise with missing persons, there is no definitive estimate of the number of missing adults. The reasons are attributed to not reporting the missing adult to the databases that exist on missing persons or not knowing the adult is missing.

Federal law mandates state and local law enforcement report missing children, but there are no such requirements for adults (age 21). 

The reasons an adult goes missing is not usually known. Some cases have turned out to be trafficking cases. The problem is WE DON'T KNOW because federal, state, local and non-profit databases work independently of one another.

The focus of the Help Find the Missing Act is to encourage interaction between databases that are maintained by different agencies. Such as the Missing Persons File of the NCIC which is maintained by the FBI and the Missing Person Database of NamUs, maintained by NIJ and the FBI's NDIS, to name just a few. 

Billy's Law would authorize funding for, and increase accessibility as well as facilitate data sharing on missing persons. It would also establish a grant program as an incentive to law enforcement agencies, coroners, and medical examiners to enter profiles of missing persons aged 21 and older into the databases that currently require children ages 20 and under.

Billy's Law would also amend the National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990. The changes would require law enforcement agencies to enter information about individuals under age 21 to NamUs, in addition to the NCIC which is currently required. Currently the FBI is prohibited from providing records to NamUs.

H.R. 3695 builds upon recent efforts to address issues by:
· Authorizing, and therefore helping to ensure funding for, the National Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), which was created in July 2007 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide a federal missing persons/unidentified database that the public could access and contribute to;
· Connecting NamUs with the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) in order to create more comprehensive missing persons and unidentified remains databases and streamlining the reporting process for local law enforcement;
· Expanding current law by requiring missing children be reported to NamUs (they already must be reported to NCIC);
· Creating an incentive grants program to help states, local law enforcement and medical examiners/coroners report missing persons and unidentified remains to NCIC, NamUs, and the National DNA Index System (NDIS); and
· Calling on the DOJ to issue guidelines and best practices on handling missing persons and unidentified remains cases in order to empower law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners to help find the missing.

Billy's law will help fill the gap in resources, shared information, and provide one central database.  Understanding the relationship between Missing Persons and Human Trafficking and the disconnects of information that is occurring in each, it makes it very clear that "Help Find The Missing Act" HR3695 (Billy's Law) must be passed. 

According to a close friend of the family Larry Ramsdell, family and friends are asking people to call the Subcommittee Members and ask them to attend the hearing on January 21st and request they co-sponsor the bill. Congressman Ted Poe is a major supporter of this Bill and is expected to attend the hearing. For more information, click here.



*Hon. Lofgren (D) California, 16th
*Hon. Waters (D) California, 35th
*Hon. Lungren (R) California, 3rd

*Hon. Wasserman Schultz (D) Florida, 20th
*Hon. Rooney (R) Florida, 16th

*Hon. Quigley (D) Illinois, 5th

*Hon. Weiner (D) New York, 9th
*Hon. Nadler (D) New York, 8th

*Hon. Pierluisi (D) Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner

*Hon. Cohen (D) Tennessee, 9th

*Hon. Jackson Lee (D) Texas, 18th
*Hon. Gohmert Ranking Member (R) Texas, 1st
*Hon. Poe (R) Texas, 2nd

*Hon. Scott Chairman (D) Virginia, 3rd
*Hon. Forbes (R) Virginia, 4th
*Hon. Goodlatte (R) Virginia, 6th



By Linda Forman
Clarification on Billy's Law.
I would like to clarify a couple of points on Billy's Law that may have been misunderstood. They are important issues when talking to your congressman to try to get cosponsors for Billy's Law.


1) Billy’s Law creates an incentive grants program to provide law enforcement, medical examiners, and coroners with the resources they need to report missing adults or unidentified bodies to the federal databases. It does NOT mandate they be reported.

2) Billy’s Law would connect the FBI’s National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) missing person and unidentified persons databases with the Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), in order to increase the likelihood of finding the missing or identifying human remains.

3) NamUs is the only federal database that the public can search and contribute to. Billy’s Law ensures that sensitive information held in the FBI’s database is not required to be shared in order to protect ongoing investigations. Instead, it requires the FBI to determine which information should be shared in order to help solve missing persons cases.

4) Under Billy’s Law, the Department of Justice will be charged with educating law enforcement, medical, examiners, and coroners about the federal databases and how to best handle missing persons cases.

5) Billy’s Law is a bi-partisan effort and is supported by the law enforcement, forensics and missing children/adults advocacy communities.

If you have any questions or would like be an original cosponsor of Billy’s Law, please contact Linda Forman in Congressman Murphy’s office at x5-4476 or Tim Tarpley in Congressman Poe’s office at x5-6565.

Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network 

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