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Emmett Till Cold Case Investigations and Prosecution Program


The Emmett Till Cold Case Investigations and Prosecution Program, launched in FY 2020, provides support to state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors in their investigation and prosecution of cold case murders associated with civil rights violations. Funds are limited to address violations of civil rights statutes resulting in death that occurred no later than December 31, 1979.

Allowable uses of funding include review of evidence and use of modern DNA and forensic tools to aid investigations. State, local and tribal agencies have been and are encouraged to work with their federal partners to pursue these cases and coordinate review of case files and evidence related to potential cases, consistent with other activities under the Emmett Till Act.

This includes other efforts authorized under the act by the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the Civil Rights Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, as well as the Field Office for the FBI, Community Relations Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the applicant’s jurisdiction. As part of the Emmett Till Act, the FBI created a “Cold Case Initiative” in which the FBI had its field offices search their cold case files to identify incidents that might be appropriate for investigation. Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with their FBI Field Offices and their US Attorney’s Offices on these cases.

BJA also recognizes that the needs of specific jurisdictions may vary widely. As such, BJA encourages the applicants to consider their response in scale with the nature of their local problems, and to consider state or regional approaches.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • Enhance collaboration between federal, state and local law-enforcement and prosecution agencies in their investigation and prosecution of unsolved civil rights cold case murders.
  • Increase the number of state, local and tribal investigations and prosecutions of civil rights cold case murders.
  • Bring justice and support to families and stakeholders impacted by these murders.
Date Modified: November 1, 2022
Date Created: March 10, 2020