Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Madam Speaker, Lois Gibson has made the Guinness Book of World Records as ``The World's Most Successful Forensic Artist.'' Her sketches of perpetrators have been instrumental in assisting the police to catch over 1,062 criminals. She has recently written a book with renowned author, Deanie Francis Mills, about her experience being a criminal sketch artist and the profession's value to society. This Houston resident has made a name for herself in law enforcement all across the country and has done so for twenty-five years.

An alumna of the University of Texas at Austin, Gibson has put her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to great use. A naturally artistic person, she decided to take the FBI Academy Forensic Artist Course to become a qualified criminal sketch artist. When Gibson was younger, she was sexually assaulted by a serial rapist and murderer. Perhaps it was this experience that most inspired Gibson to enter into the service of catching criminals and helping those in need. The memory of her traumatic incident definitely stays with Gibson but rather than letting it get her down, she uses it to inspire her work every single day.

Ms. Gibson's status as a past victim, allows her to truly and deeply sympathize with those that she works with. After an upsetting situation, those affected often have issues rehashing the situation and having to again envision the assailant's face, but Ms. Gibson allows them to get past this. Gibson can communicate well with these people because she understands where they are coming from, being a victim herself. Thus, victims are more likely to open up to Gibson and she makes it easier for them to focus and give her an accurate depiction of their attacker.

Despite the profession of criminal sketching having many talented and trained artists, there is a limited amount of full-time sketch artists in the country. It took Ms. Gibson, herself, some time to persuade the Houston Police Department of her merit. The HPD had never used an artist before and they believed the role Gibson proposed seemed superfluous. When the department finally agreed to let her work, Gibson was soon identified as a valuable asset to the law enforcement team and some police officers began to wonder how they had ever operated efficiently without her.

About thirty percent of Gibson's sketches catch their intended offenders when finger prints are around ten percent effective. It is findings like these that make the question of, why more police departments do not embrace the importance of having a full-time sketch artist, more profound. Still, Gibson's work has not gone unnoticed, as she has won numerous awards for stopping ruthless criminals and bringing justice to the blameless victims.

I commend this remarkable American on her twenty-five year devotion to public service, and thank her for doing work that has made our country a safer place to live in.

And that's just the way it is.