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What Happened Next . . .

In many instances AMBER Alerts have led to the quick rescue of abducted children. At the time of PROTECT's signing (April 30, 2003) forty-one states had established AMBER Alert programs and about forty-nine local and regional programs existed. These numbers were up from sixteen state and thirty-two local and regional programs in August 2002.

Regional plans are plans that cover a larger area than just one city such as the King County AMBER Alert Plan that covers the greater metropolitan Seattle, Washington, area. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, by June 4, 2004, all states except Hawaii had established statewide plans (Hawaii had local plans in both Honolulu and Maui County). Seventeen regional and thirty-two local plans were in operation.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had appointed Deborah J. Daniels, assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice programs, as the first national AMBER Alert Coordinator six months before PROTECT was signed into law. In 2003 and 2004 she was in the process of studying all AMBER plans across the country and coordinating their efforts nationwide. Daniels and her staff developed minimum standards for issuing alerts; developed federal, state, and local partnerships; evaluated improving technologies and their compatibility (ability to work together) with different systems; and developed programs to raise public awareness about abductions.

National advisory member groups contributing to the coordinated AMBER effort included, in addition to the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, broadcasters nationwide, and law enforcement agencies across the country.

Meghan's Law

President Bill Clinton (1946–; served 1993–2001) signed Meghan's Law, also known as Megan's Law, on May 17, 1996. Megan's Law requires registration of convicted sex offenders and notification when a sex offender moves into a community. States are required to register sex offenders and to make public both private and personal information about the offender in the community where the offender lives.

States may establish their own standards for what information is disclosed about an offender. Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was the victim of a brutal rape and murder in 1994.

Registration and community notification of convicted sex offenders is required because of the high rate of repeat offenses by sex offenders after their release from custody. The government's first interest and responsibility is protection of the public. These interests come before the privacy interests of sex offenders. Registration allows law enforcement to immediately investigate known offenders when a crime is committed. Community notification allows citizens to better protect their children from sex offenders who might have moved into their community.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawPROTECT Act - Things To Remember While Reading Excerpts From The Protect Act Of 2003:, What Happened Next . . ., Meghan's Law - Excerpt from the PROTECT Act of (2003)