March 21, 2008
New Jersey signs law requiring use of Health Science Center DNA Lab services
A new law in the State of New Jersey aims to identify missing persons through a partnership between New Jersey law enforcement agencies and the UNT Center for Human Identification here on the UNTHSC campus. Patricia’s Law, which passed in January, requires New Jersey law enforcement agencies to submit reference DNA samples from family members of people missing more than 30 days to the UNT Center for Human Identification’s DNA lab for analysis and uploading into CODIS. Patricia’s Law is the first of its kind in the country to offer a comprehensive plan for collecting DNA evidence.
The law was signed by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine at a press conference on Wednesday. Also in attendance were several New Jersey lawmakers, law enforcement representatives and the family of Patricia Viola, for whom the law is named.
Viola was a 42-year-old New Jersey wife and mother who disappeared Feb. 13, 2001. She left her home between 1 and 2:30 pm without identification, keys, credit cards, or her medication. No one knows what happened to her, and she has not yet been found.
Patricia’s Law was born from model legislation designed in 2005 at the first National Strategy Meeting on Identifying the Missing, which 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.ProjectJason.org, a not-for-profit missing persons organization, then 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. Patricia’s husband, Jim, took on New Jersey, and State Sen. Loretta Weinberg immediately embraced the new proposed legislation, making New Jersey the first state to obtain sponsorship.
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