"Patricia's Law"
{The Patricia Marie Viola Missing Web Site}

Background

"Patricia's Law" - model Missing Persons Legislation, signed into NJ law on Jan. 13, 2008, and the majority of its language were born almost three years ago in April 2005 as Model Legislation at the first National Strategy Meeting on identifying the Missing.  At this conference, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service brought together Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement, medical examiners and coroners, victim's advocates, forensic scientists, key policymakers and families who have lived through this tragic experience to develop the baseline Missing Persons' Model Legislation.  The Model was now ready for the next step.

ProjectJason.org, a not for profit Missing Persons organization, facilitated the next step and called for volunteers in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to retain a Sponsor to support the Model  Missing Persons' Legislation at the state level.  Campaign for the Missing 2006, a grassroots effort, was born and volunteers came forward from many states to take the Model Legislation, tailor it for their respective state, retain a Sponsor and forge it into law.  Patricia's husband, Jim Viola, took on New Jersey and State Senator Loretta Weinberg (District 37) and her staff immediately embraced the new proposed Legislation, making NJ the first state to obtain sponsorship and making it a reason for all of us to be proud.  New Jersey is on it's way to passing some much needed new Missing Person Legislation as Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson also sponsored an identical proposed bill in the Assembly.

Click here to learn more about New Jersey's Legislative Process.

Introduction

The key points of "Patricia's Law" are as follows:

- A law enforcement agency shall accept without delay any report of a missing person and cannot refuse to accept such reports for any reason.

- Provides a detailed breakout of the specific information to be gathered and recorded by law enforcement about the missing person.

- After 30 days missing, ensures that a DNA reference sample is secured from the family of the missing person and forwarded to the appropriate agency for analysis and ultimately entry into CODIS (mp) , the Combined DNA Index System for Missing Persons, to check for a match.  Once the DNA profile is available, the missing persons record in the National Crime Information System (NCIC), will be updated to reflect that DNA is available.

- Improves the system of communication between law enforcement and the person
making the report,  a family member, or any other person in a position to assist law enforcement in locacting the missing person, including informing the person filing the missing persons report of the existence of two clearing houses for missing person's information.  If the person reported missing is age 17 or under, the person filing the report shall be provided with contact information for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  If the person reported missing is age 18 or older, the person filing the report shall be provided with contact information for the National Center for Missing Adults. 

- Law enforcement shall immediately determine if the missing person is deemed "high-risk" and will take immediate action.  The NJ State Police Missing Persons Unit resources will be available as needed.

- The Attorney General will provide information to local law enforcement concerning best practices and protocols for handling death scene investigations.

- Improve procedures for handling human remains and communication with the family.

     Click here to read the complete latest version of "Patricia's Law" Legislation.

"Patricia's Law" strives to give hope to families of the missing and keeps the families actively
engaged in helping to bring home their missing loved one.


Timeline of Events

Jan. 7, 2006       Jim Viola contacted Senator Loretta Weinberg and requested support on the
                         subject Model Missing Persons' Legislation.

Jan. 13, 2006    Received a very positive response from Senator Loretta Weinberg
                        and was informed that her staff will start to review the proposal
                         submitted immediately.

Jan. 31, 2006    Senator Loretta Weinberg's staff inform Jim Viola that  she will be
                         sponsoring the proposed Model Missing Persons' Legislation.  The
                         Model Missing Persons' Legislation is moved to the Research/Drafting
                         stage as it is compared with existing laws.

April 13, 2006     Senator Loretta Weinberg's staff confirmed that the proposed Model
                          Missing Persons' Legislation will be known as "Patricia's Law".

Oct. 6, 2006        Draft of "Patricia's Law" completed.

Oct. 16, 2006      "Patricia's Law" formally introduced to the full NJ Senate at the
                          212th Legislature (first reading) and is assigned Senate Bill
                          No. S2255 and referred to the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veteran Affairs
                          Committee for vote.

Oct. 19, 2006        Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Valerie
                          Vainieri-Huttle and Jim Viola held a Press Conference held in front
                          of Jim's home to formally announce the introduction of "Patricia's
                          Law" into the NJ Senate.  The Bogota Police and Bergen County
                          Prosecutors Office also participated and supported the Press Conference
                          as did Sen. Weinberg's staff.

                         - Click here for Video of Press Conference.

                         - Click here for Audio comments by Jim Viola at the Press Conference.

                          - Photos from Press Conference1234567

Oct. 23. 2006      Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle Sponsors an identical version of "Patricia's
                          Law" in the Assembly in the legislature and introduces it as Assembly Bill A3643 or
                          "Patricia's Law" and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee for
                           vote. 

Oct. 25, 2006      "The Record" covered the 10/19/06 Press Conference in the Bergen and Passaic
                          County Editions on Oct. 25, 2006.

                          - Click here to read The Record article and review additional links added by Jim Viola.


Oct.  30, 2006        New12 New Jersey News Coverage of "Patricia's Law" (Video)


Nov. 1, 2006          Bergen News Coverage of "Patricia's Law"  

Feb. 26, 2007        S2255  (Senate version) passed out of the Senate Law & Public Safety and
                            Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously. 

Click the lhe following link to listen to the 2/26 testimony.  Select Listen under Status on 2/26/07.
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=SLP&SESSION=2006










                                             Jim Viola and Senator Loretta Weinberg
                                              testify in Trenton, NJ for "Patricia's Law"

May 17, 2007         A3643 (Assembly version) passed out of the Assembly Law and Public Safety
                            Committee unanimously. 

Click the lhe following link to listen to the 5/17 testimony, then select Listen under Status on 5/17/07.
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=ALP&SESSION=2006

June 14, 2007S2255 (Senate version) passed out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations
                            Committee unanimously. 

Click the lhe following link to listen to the 6/14 testimony, then select Listen under Status on 6/14/07
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=SBA&SESSION=2006

June 21, 2007        S2255 passed in a vote of the full NJ Senate by a margin of 37-0, unanimously.
                             All amendments were transferred to the Assembly version, A3643.

There will be no more activiity in A3643 until after Elections at which time it will be scheduled for review by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

July 20, 2007          Bogota Bulletin article, dated July 20, 2007
                             (Contains several links with additional information and photos)
                             By Staff Writer Robin DeCicco

August 31, 2007     Jim Viola created and reviewed a detailed slide show presentation provided on
                            the issues of missing persons in New Jersey and the status of Patricia's Law in a
                            phone conference call with Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, the chair of the Assembly
                            Appropriations Committee. 
The purpose of the meeting was to ensure that our legislation is added to the
agenda of the upcoming Appropriations Committee meeting.
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou was receptive and understanding to our needs and
                             concerns.

October 22, 2007   Jim Viola sent letters and copies of the Patricia's Law presentation from 8/31/07 along                                 with several articles and information on DNA and the special DNA work that
                             The Center for Human Identification is performing for missing persons to
                             Assemblyman Joe Roberts, Assembly Speaker.

November 6, 2007  Patricia's Law primary sponsor's and leaders, Senator Loretta Weinberg,
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson
are all re-elected for another term.

December 2007     Senator Weinberg travels to Trenton to discuss the delays in the movement of our
                            legislation.  

January 3, 2008     Patricia's Law, Bill A3643, was passed out of the Appropriations Committee
                            unanimously and  moved to the agenda of the Assembly for a vote set for
                            Monday, 1/7/08. 
                                         
January 7, 2008    Two years to the day since we started this effort, S2255/A3643 "Patricia's Law"
                            was passed today in the General Assembly by a unanimously 80-0 vote.
                          
                             NJ Senate Democrat News Release (PDF) (WEB)
                             Trenton News Release (WEB)    
                                                                                                                       
                     
January 13, 2008   Governor Corzine signs S2255/A3643 "Patricia's Law" ;model Missing
                               Person's Legislation into New Jersey Law.

January 15, 2008     News12 NJ Coverage of "Patricia's Law" (7 min. 49 sec. - 11.2MB) (Video)


January 18, 2008   Bogota Bulletin, Ridgefield Park Patriot, Little Ferry Local, &
                             Hackensack Chronicle  


March 19, 2008    The Bogota Municipal Building (Borough Hall) hosted the public
                             signing of "Patricia's Law"; model missing persons
                             legislation by Governor Jon Corzine. 
                            
                             The actual signing took place in the Council Chambers.    Scroll down for
                              photos and more videos.  
 
                             News12 New Jersey (Video) (7.8 MB - 3 min, 9 sec.)

                             NJN News (Video) (6.0 MB - 2 min, 29 sec)

                             WMBC News (Video) (9.4 MB - 3 min, 46 sec)

                             MyNews9 (Video) (1.9 MB - 54 sec)


                             Bergen Record Articles (PDF) - 3/19/08 and 3/20/08

                             Office of NJ Attorney General Launches new
                             DNA ID Program (PDF) - 3/19/08

                              Newark Star Ledger Article (PDF) - 3/19/08    


         --> Photos from March 19, 2008 Public Signing of Patricia's Law <--

           12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

            21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 & 34 (Christine Viola,
               and Patricia Viola's best friend, Toinette, holding Jim and Patricia's grandson, Amari)

                   Ceremonial Signing of S-2255/A-3643 (Patricia's Law)

                         Speaking Program (Select speaker to watch videos)

               > Bogota Chief Frank Gurnari (Welcome and MC)(Photos 8, 11, 14 & 24)

               > NJ Governor Jon S. Corzine (9.4 MB - 5 min, 30 sec) (Video includes introduction)
                  (Photos 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 22-29, & 33)

               > Senator Loretta Weinberg (7.6 MB - 4 min, 26 sec)
                  (Photos 6, 7, 15, 22-28 & 30)

               > Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (7.7 MB - 4 min, 30 sec)
                  (Photos 16, 22-25 & 27)

               > Assemblywoman Joan Voss (3.7 MB - 2 min, 8 sec)
                  (Photos 6, 7, 17, 22-29 & 31)

               > NJ Attorney General Anne Milgram (10.7 MB - 6 min, 14 sec)
                 (Photos 8, 18, 23-25, 27 & 31)

               > NJ State Police Lieutenant Colonel Gayle Cameron (6.7 MB - 3 min, 55 sec)
                 (Sorry, photos not available)

               > Jim Viola (6.3 MB - 3 min, 40 sec)
                  (2-8, 19-29, 31-33)

               > NJ Governor Jon S. Corzine signs S-2255/A-3643 (4.7 MB - 2 min, 44 sec)
                  (Photos 1, 22-29)

               > End Program

                Notes: George Adams, Missing Persons Coordinator at UNTCHI,
                            was unable to attend due to Texas storms which closed airports.

                            Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle was unable to attend due to a family vacation.

   
March 21, 2008   University of North Texas - Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI)                                                  Top Story - Patricia's Law Signing  (PDF)                                                                                          
March 26, 2008   Bergen News coverage of Patricia's Law signing  (PDF)

                            Teaneck Suburbanite coverage of Patricia's Law signing (PDF)
                             (The same article also appeared in the Bogota Bulletin, Ridgefield
                             Park Patriot, Little Ferry Local, & Hackensack Chronicle)













August 19, 2009  New Jersey Star Ledger article discussing the progress New Jersey
                            has made in the entry of DNA for the unidentified.




THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR THE SUPPORT IN THIS IMPORTANT INITIATIVE !                            
FACT: Since 2000, New Jersey has almost 1700 active unsolved missing person cases.
          {Patricia Viola is one of them}.  Source: New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit

As of 3/19/08, NJ has approximately 1500 long term (>30 days) missing person cases and 272
unidentified deceased.  Now as a result of "Patricia's Law", Attorney General Anne Milgram,
working with the NJ State Police and local law enforcement, and under the authorization of Governor Corzine are moving forward with a new DNA initiative by contacting all those 1500 families
of the missing and providing DNA kits so their missing loved ones DNA or the family reference sample of the missing loved one can be added to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System or CODIS, national DNA database.  Similarly, DNA from NJ's 272 unidentified deceased with have their DNA extracted and also loaded into the unidentified deceased persons CODIS database.  These databases are constantly run against each other to look for matches. To facilitate and accomplish this, NJ has partnered with DNA experts at the UNT, Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI), who utilizes funds from President Bush's DNA initiative to perform the following:

- Provide Free DNA kits for the missing person.
- Provide Free DNA kits for the family reference sample.
- Provide Free DNA kits for the unidentified remains.
- Perform Free Nuclear and Mitochrondrial DNA analysis for the samples.
- Upload the resulting DNA into the CODIS database all FREE of charge.  

Law enforcement has indicated that matches are already being made.  "Answers" will coming to many families of missing persons.

We applaud the NJ State Police leadership, Attorney General Anne Milgram and Governor Jon Corzine for "doing the right thing" for NJ's missing and unidentified deceased months before Patricia's Law was signed into law.  Their pro-active actions are greatly appreciated.

These are the efforts we have hoped for when the campaign to pass Patricia's law was started.  Keep
in mind though that we have a lot of work to do to make the CODIS database really help us nationally.
Very often our loved ones go missing from one state and are found in an adjacent state.  It is critical that all states get on board with this legislation and program. 
We need every other state to adopt legislation similar to Patricia's Law and utilize the expertise at  UNTCHI.  Finanically and in the interest of Public Safety, it makes so much sense.  A few states have already passed the legislation and we continue to support over 20 states that are in the process.   Please contact Kelly Jolkowsi of Project Jason or Jim Viola if you are interested in working in a particular state.  Remember, as of March 2008, there are over still 100,000 missing persons and over 40,000 unidentified deceased across our country.  There is still much work to be done so please get involved. 

UPDATE:
As of 8/19/09, New Jersey has processes the DNA for 275 of the now 300 unidentified loved ones and one family was even able to obtain answers to their long term missing son as a result.   See the 8/19/09 Star Ledger article for more information.            
                               

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Video of Public Signing  and photos - 3/19/08
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