Sunday, June 13, 2010

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK): Why No Support for the Missing?

As a former resident of the great state of Oklahoma, I'm more than surprised that Senator Coburn is showing resistance for The Help Find The Missing Act (Billy's Law) S3019.   Although all Americans are suffering through a bad economy, and I can understand  budget and funding concerns as  mentioned in Senator Coburn's latest newsletter, however, there are other things that affect every American, either directly or indirectly, and one of them is the fact that almost 1 million of our citizens are reported missing every year as recorded by FBI and NCIC reports.  Yes, some return home safely within a few days, but thousands do not, and thousands NEVER come home, but are part of a vast repository of unidentified remains.

The Help Find the Missing Act will act to bridge the gap between the active missing persons cases and those who are unidentified, enabling thousands of families, like the family of Billy Smolinski, to find resolution to their cases.  Many of these families have accepted the fact that their loved one has met with foul play, but not one of them can, nor will, accept the fact that the remains of their loved ones are unable to be found and put to rest properly.

I urge every missing person's websites, databases, family members and supporters to UNITE and help get this important piece of legislation passed into law for the benefit of a national response to the epidemic of missing persons.

Becky Castillo, a volunteer with the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department – Coroner Division, who assists the Unidentified-Missing Persons Coordinator, Deputy Coroner Investigator David Van Norman in handling cases of missing and unidentified persons, has given  a sample letter to send to Senator Coburn on the missing person's support site, Peace4 the Missing.

Please take just a few minutes of your time today and personalize the following sample letter with your own stories or opinions.  If you do not live in Oklahoma, it's best to mail a letter from your post office as emails from outside Oklahoma will most likely not be read.

NOTE:  Remember this is a sample letter, all the facts are here; use some of it, part of it, and in some cases, if you have to, use it all. In the letter you will see (Insert personal story or Oklahoma's statistics) make sure you do this, when you are finished have it be your own.

Senator Coburn,

I am writing this letter in support of pending legislation, Billy's Law

(S3019). According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 4,000

unidentified remains are discovered each year.

After one year, 1,000 of these bodies remain unidentified. With tens of

thousands of people reported missing each year, it is likely that a
family member, friend, or loved one is looking for that unidentified
person and simply can't find them due to the absence of a cooperative

effort by law enforcement across the country.

Some law enforcement agencies have a lackadaisical attitude when they receive a report for the “voluntarily missing” and often there is very little effort to search for them. The problem is when the case goes long term. If there is any follow-up at all, often it is long after the initial report. Often those long term cases have not been resolved because the missing person has died and their remains lay unidentified in a county morgue or cemetery.

(Insert personal story or Oklahoma's statistics)

The problem we face is there is no national protocol in play to assist
investigators to bridge the gap between missing persons and unidentified
persons cases.

The Help Find the Missing Act will bridge the gap.

The National Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is
by far becoming one of the best ways for the public and law enforcement
agencies across the country to work together to help bring missing loved
ones home! Since its launch in June of last year, the database of
unidentified decedents and missing persons has proved essential in
solving 16 cases. With the passing of Billy's Law, this number only
stands to grow. Unfortunately, without the funding of Billy's Law not
all law enforcement agencies are able to allocate the resources
necessary to use the NamUs system.

The passing of Billy's Law would make it possible for agencies across
the country to input information on their unidentified decedents,
increasing the number of case resolutions and potentially bringing
closure to families of missing persons all across our country.

I support this funding and hope that you do as well. I respectfully urge
you to pass S3019 when it comes before you.


More useful information from Becky Castillo:

Unidentified Persons:

There are more than 40,000 unidentified human remains are held in evidence rooms of medical examiners throughout the U.S. but only about 7,000 active unidentified persons cases in entered into NCIC.


NCIC Active/Expired Unidentified Person Analysis Report; NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics for 2009

• As of December 31, 2009, there were 7,302 unidentified person records in NCIC.

• During 2009, 1,040 unidentified person records were entered into NCIC

Bureau of Justice Special Report: Medical Examiners and Coroners Offices, 2004; June 2007, NCJ 216756

• 4,400 unidentified human decedents reported in an average year; 1,000 remained unidentified after 1 year
• An estimated 20% of ME/C offices reported they used the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) “somewhat often” or “very often” while 80% of ME/C offices reported they “rarely or never” used NCIC

• (California was the only State that mandated information about the unidentified be reported to NCIC within a specified period. About 42% of all records in the NCIC unidentified persons file were from California.)

Side Note: If your missing loved one ended up deceased in a jurisdiction that does not report to NCIC, they may never be identified! NamUs can help to change that!

Missing Persons:

Every year, tens of thousands of people vanish under suspicious circumstances.

On any given day there are approximately 100,000 active missing person cases in the U.S.

(Approximately 2,300 persons are reported missing per day)


NCIC Active/Expired Unidentified Person Analysis Report; NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics for 2009

• As of December 31, 2009, NCIC contained 96,192 active missing person records.

• During 2009, 719,558 missing person records were entered into NCIC.

These are only statistics. This is not meant to be used "as is" in the letter. Use it as a resource to state your facts confidently. Your letter must come from your heart...

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