House votes to start unsolved crimes unit for cold civil rights cases

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives Wednesday overwhelmingly passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act [HR 923 bill information] by 422-2 [roll call]. The bill would establish an Unsolved Crimes Section within the civil rights [JURIST news archive] divisions of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation [official websites], funded by an allocation of $10 million per year over the next ten years. It would also provide $2 million a year for state and local investigations. The act is named for Emmett Till [Wikipedia backgrounder; JURIST news archive], a black teenager who was murdered in 1955 by unknown parties in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, had testified [transcript; press release] in support of the bill. A senate version [S 535 bill information] is expected to pass without difficulty.

Several cold cases have been reopened [US News backgrounder] in the past few years. Last week a federal jury convicted [JURIST report] former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member James Ford Seale [Wikipedia profile] for his role in the deaths of two 19-year-olds in Mississippi in 1964. Earlier this year Mississippi upheld the 2005 sentencing [JURIST reports] of ex-KKK member Edgar Ray Killen [Wikipedia profile], now in his 80s, to the maximum 60 years in prison for the 1964 deaths of three civil rights activists. AP has more.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.