SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Governor Pritzker signed into law on Monday a bill that was directly inspired by the disappearance and death of Jelani Day.
The bill requires Illinois coroners to notify and consult the FBI if they are unable to identify a body within 72 hours of the body being found. It’s a much shorter time than Carmen Bolden-Day had to wait when her son went missing in August.
“I want them to remember that every time they have to do something in that way, to go look for somebody, to make sure that this person is identified,” Bolden-Day said. “They have to identify that with Jelani, because they didn’t do that for Jelani.”
Day’s body was found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4, but his remains weren’t officially identified until 19 days later. In those 19 days, Bolden-Day continued to look for her son, keeping her hope alive.
“I was out there looking for him when all along, they actually have my son somewhere in the mortuary, in a in a box somewhere, that they hadn’t identified it as him,” Bolden-Day said.
She wants to make sure others don’t go through that same pain.
“It’s important to me that this bill is enacted. It’s important to me that is it has became a law,” Bolden-Day said. “And it’s important to me that is recognized as the Jelani Day Bill.”
The law only requires coroners to notify the FBI; it doesn’t require the FBI to get involved. Only a handful of lawmakers voted against it, worried the law would overburden the FBI.
“My fear was they’ll get these notifications and they’ll just learn over the course of a quarter or half a year, ‘Oh it’s another coroner notification from Illinois. File it in the Illinois file,’ and it really wasn’t going to do what the sponsor ultimately wanted.”
The law officially goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The bill’s sponsors said it is all about coroners using all resources at their disposal to solve these cases.