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May 7, 2023

House Passes Bill to Improve the Office of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to improve the Office of Liaison for Missing or Murdered Indigenous Relatives. SB23-054 passed the House by a vote of 61 to 3 and would streamline case information and communication between families and the office. 

“Colorado’s made great progress in addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives, but more must be done to ensure families get the communication they need,” said Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs. “The data is heartbreaking: Indigenous people are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes and families are often left waiting for answers. Our bill improves Colorado’s Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives by making sure families have a designated contact to follow up on their loved one’s case. We’re taking steps to improve our state’s coordination and response to make sure missing or murdered indigenous people and their families get the justice they deserve.” 

“Colorado’s Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives is a step in the right direction, and we’re making improvements to the office so more families can get answers and seek justice,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County. “The number of missing and murdered indigenous relatives, especially women, has reached a crisis point nationwide. Colorado is no exception to this crisis, and we’re working to streamline our response and better support family members through the judicial process. It’s way past time we resist the normalization of violence against Indigenous people, and we must respond in ways that protect the Indigenous community.” 

SB23-054 will improve coordination, response, communication and awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) cases. Last year, SB22-150 created the Office of Liaison for Missing or Murdered Indigenous Relatives. This legislation refines the MMIR liaison’s role by strengthening their advisory board and requiring an annual report to be shared with legislative committees to improve accountability and follow up for challenges the Indigenous community is facing. SB23-054 brings training to victim advocates who work with indigenous persons. 

More than 4 out of 5 Indigenous people in the United States experience violent crime during their lifetime, a rate disproportionately higher than any other segment of the population and murder is the 3rd cause of death for Native women. This bill aims to improve the MMIR liaison and communicate better with families of the missing indigenous persons. 

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