Missing Girl’s Mother Continues to Fight for Legislation to Protect Children

Colleen Nick, Executive Director of the Morgan Nick Foundation (MNF), continues to search for her daughter Morgan Nick, who went missing on July 9, 1995 from a local ballpark in Alma, Arkansas. Despite an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that does not allow the disclosure of information in an active investigation, Nick works closely with local law enforcement to continue the search for her daughter Morgan.

Computer files are also included as part of the FOIA. Photo taken by Kendee Hughes.
Computer files are also included as part of the FOIA. Photo taken by Kendee Hughes.

Although explicit details of the case are unavailable to both the public and to Nick, she said that law enforcement does release information that is pertinent to the case to help find the individual that abducted Morgan.

“They are very good to keep us updated about leads that come in and things they are checking out,” says Nick.

According to Health and Human Services, a request for Personal Health Information (PHI) for purposes of identifying or locating a missing person must be limited to an individual’s name, address, date and place of birth, social security number, ABO blood type and Rh factor, type of injury, and distinguishing physical characteristics.

While some information is made public, law enforcement officials are bound by certain restrictions, “which sometimes causes a terrible breakdown in communication” between them and the families of missing or exploited children stated Nick.

In 1996, Nick founded the Morgan Nick Foundation to provide on-site support for families of missing children. The organization also serves as a liaison with law enforcement and media, and provides resources for immediate and extended family members on a state and national level.

Morgan Nick Foundation Office in Alma, Arkansas. Photo by Kendee Hughes.
Morgan Nick Foundation Office in Alma, Arkansas. Photo by Kendee Hughes.

The MNF was also influential in the federal mandate signed by former President Bill Clinton as well as Megan’s Law requiring the registration of sex offenders and notification to the public. Until 1996, sex offender registries were only made available to law enforcement officials. Prior to Megan’s Law, government officials were concerned that the release of a sex-offender’s right to privacy would be violated and the offender would face discrimination.

However, after Megan’s Law passed, the provisions of the Crime Bill that prohibited disclosure of sex offender registry information were replaced with wording that allows the release of information “for any purpose permitted under the laws of the State. According to the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC), Arkansas code mandates that sex offenders who pose the highest risk to the public (Level 3 or Level 4), must be available on the Arkansas state website. In addition, law enforcement agencies can release information about registered sex offenders to the public in order to maintain public safety.

Photo taken and edited by Kendee Hughes from www.missingpersonreport.org.
Photo taken and edited by Kendee Hughes from www.missingpersonreport.org.

Not only has the MNF fought to protect the rights of children through several pieces of legislation that provides information to the public, but they also continue to provide public safety and abduction prevention programs to children, parents, teachers, and communities.

Nick believes, “As long as we are all working toward the same goal, then we can work well together.”

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