Newswire : Alabama Senator Doug Jones introduces legislation to mandate release of Civil Rights Cold Case Records

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced legislation on July 10 mandating the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved criminal civil rights cases. Legislation is necessary because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as implemented, has prevented the timely and adequate disclosure of executive branch records, and congressional records are not subject to public disclosure under FOIA.

In addition, some of these records, although almost 50 years old, remain classified unnecessarily or shielded from public view. The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 remedies this problem by requiring the National Archives and Records Administration to create a collection of government documents related to civil rights cold cases and to make those documents available to the public. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.

“Having prosecuted two civil rights cold cases in Alabama, I know firsthand the importance of having every available piece of information at your disposal,” said Senator Jones, a former U.S. Attorney. “This bill will ensure public access to records relating to these cases and will expand the universe of people who can help investigate these crimes, including journalists, historians, private investigators, local law enforcement, and others. We might not solve every one of these cold cases, but my hope is that this legislation will help us find some long-overdue healing and understanding of the truth in the more than 100 unsolved civil rights criminal cases that exist today.”

Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the former KKK members responsible for the bombing of the 16thStreet Baptist Church, has long been an advocate for greater access to civil rights cold case records. In 2007, he testified to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act that established a special initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate civil rights cold cases. He spoke about the difficulty of prosecuting these cases so many years after the crimes were committed and pointed to the importance of sharing information in order to find the truth.

“We’ve made progress ensuring these heinous acts of violence and hatred are able to be brought to justice—but we have more work to do,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, former Jackson County Prosecutor. “Helping families and advocates get access to these documents could help their push towards justice for these long unsolved cold cases.”

“It is hard to overstate the positive impact that Sen. Doug Jones’s proposed Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act would have on thousands of families who, 40 to 60 years later, have no idea how a father, grandfather, aunt or brother came to a violent death in the modern civil rights era,” said Hank Klibanoff, Director, Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University. “As a journalist and historian who relies on government-held records in these civil rights cold cases, it’s important to know that our purposes are simple: To learn the truth, to seek justice where there may be a living perpetrator, to tell the untold stories, and to bring closure to families of victims, and find opportunities for racial reconciliation.”

The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 will:

· Require the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a collection of cold case records about unsolved criminal civil rights cases that government offices must publicly disclose in the collection without redaction or withholding.

· Establish a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board as an independent agency of impartial private citizens to facilitate the review, transmission to NARA, and public disclosure of government records related to such cases.

Senator Jones’ bill was modeled after the President John F. Kennedy, Jr. Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which created an orderly and effective process for reviewing, declassifying, and releasing thousands of documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy. Read a detailed overview of the legislation here.

The legislation Senator Jones introduced was originally envisioned by students from Hightstown High School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and their teacher, Stuart Wexler.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to be observed on Friday, June 15, 2018 Alabama’s reponse to Elder Abuse

 

Judge Judy

Shown above Judge of Probate, Judy Spree signing a proclamation for the Greene County DHR Service Staff Wilson Morgan, Director, Jacqueline Hughes- Family & Children Services Supervisor, Beverly Vester– Q.A Coordinator, Kimberly Tyree, CA/N investigator not pictured: Latonya Wooley, Foster Care Worker

The elderly population and disabled adults in our state and communities have the right to feel safe and to be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, this is not the case for every elderly individual and disabled adult in our state. Based upon reports from previous years, thousands of elderly individuals and disabled adults have been and are being abused, neglected and exploited in Alabama every year.
In an effort to promote elder abuse awareness, agencies, organizations, communities and professionals around the world will unite on June 15th to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The following activities are scheduled to take place in Greene County in observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness.

Greene County DHR employees will wear Purple Ribbons all month. Employees will wear Purple on June 15, 2018. Greene County DHR will host an Event to promote Elder Abuse Awareness on June 27, 2018 at the Eutaw Activity Center starting at 1:30 p.m. to discuss issues regarding the elderly and disabled adults.
The national theme for this year’s observance is “Building Strong Support for Elders”. The nationally recognized color to represent elder abuse awareness is purple. We are asking each community member to please wear purple throughout the month of June, particularly on the 15th.
“Greene County Department of Human Resources (DHR) Director, Mr. Wilson Morgan stated community partners can help by reporting suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation and by assisting DHR with arranging services to protect those individuals that cannot protect themselves. Our community partners are essential to assisting DHR in providing for the safety of the elderly population and disabled adults”.
The Department of Human Resources (DHR) is responsible for investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation regarding the elderly and disabled adults. In FY 2017, DHR investigated approximately 9,700 reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults statewide, which included elderly individuals and disabled adults.
DHR is requesting the assistance of all community members to help with protecting our vulnerable citizens as they have contributed so much to society. If you suspect an elderly person or an adult with disabilities is being mistreated please contact Greene County DHR at (205) 372-5000 to make a report.
Reports may also be made toll free to Adult Abuse Hotline 1-800-458-7214, and via online at aps@dhr.alabama.gov.   All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously.