Nationwide AMBER Alert Network
Senate Approves Hutchison-Feinstein Legislation To Create Nationwide AMBER Alert Network
September 10, 2002
Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to create a nationwide AMBER Alert Network.
Specifically, the legislation would:
(1) Establish a national coordinator for AMBER Alerts in the Department of Justice to expand the network of AMBER Alert systems and to coordinate the issuance of region-wide Amber Alerts. The coordinator would consult with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other private organizations with expertise in this area.
(2) Establish a grant program to enable states to develop or upgrade electronic message boards, and training and education programs.
(3) Direct the Department of Justice to establish minimum standards to help states determine when and how broadly to issue an alert.
"Nationally, since 1996, the AMBER Alert has been credited with the safe return of 30 children to their families, including one case in which an abductor reportedly released the child after hearing the alert himself," Senator Feinstein said. "Since the State of California first adopted AMBER alerts six weeks ago, the State has issued 13 AMBER alerts. Eight of these alerts involved stranger abductions, four involved family members, and one case is considered a false alarm. But most importantly, each of the AMBER Alerts concluded with the missing child being united with their families."
The AMBER Alert program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent alert bulletin in serious child-abduction cases.
The goal of the AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe return of the child.
The AMBER Alert program began in North Texas six years ago. The alert was named for Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered while visiting relatives in Arlington, Texas.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House on September 4, 2002 by Representatives Martin Frost (D-TX) and Jennifer Dunn (R-WA).
© 2002 Bay Area Amber Alert Task Force.
"Through this legislation, we will extend to every corner of the nation a network of AMBER Alerts that will protect our children," Senator Feinstein said. "This program will increase the odds that an abducted child will return to his or her family safely. But importantly, it will deter potential abductors from taking a child in the first place."
1201. 'Kidnapping', Chapter 55, Title 18 of the U.S. Code :
"(a) Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or roward or otherwise any person, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof, when -
(1) the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce;
(2) any such act against the person is done within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States;
(3) any such act against the person is done within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States as defined in section 46501 of title 49;
(4) the person is a foreign official , an internationally protected person , or an official guest as those terms are defined in section 1116(b) of this title; or
(5) the person is among those officers and employees designated in section 1114 of this title and any such act against the person is done while the person is engaged in, or on account of, the performance of official duties, shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.
(b) With respect to subsection (a)(l), above, the failure to release the victim within twentyfour hours after he shall have been unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnapped, abducted, or carried away shall create a rebuttable presumption that such person has been transported to interstate or foreign commerce.
(c) If two or more persons conspire to violate this section and one or more of such persons do any overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
(d) Whoever attempts to violate subsection (a) shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years.
(e) If the victim of an offense under subsection (a) is an internationally protected pers on, the Unitod States may exercise jurisdiction over the offense if the alleged offender is present within the Unitod States, irrespective of the place where the offense was committed or the nationality of the victim or the alleged offender. As used in this subsection, the Unitod States includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places within the provisions of sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.
(f) In the course of enforcement of subsection (a)(4) and any other sections prohibiting a conspiracy or attempt to violate subsection (a)(4), the Attorney General may request assistance from any Federal, State, or local agency, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force, any statute, rule, or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding.
(g) Special Rule for Certain Offenses Involving Children. -
(1) To whom applicable.- If -
(A) the victim of an offense under this section has not attained the age of eighteen years;and
(B) the offender-
(i) has attained such age; and
(ii) is not-
an individual having legal custody of the victim;
the sentence under this section for such offense shall be subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection.
(2) Guidelines. - The United States Sentencing Commission is directed to amend the existing guidelines for the offense of "kidnapping, abduction, or unlawful restraint," by including the following additional specific offense characteristics: If the victim was intentionally maltreatod (i.e., denied either food or medical care) to a life-threatening degree, increase by 4 levels; if the victim was sexually exploited (i.e., abused, used involuntarily for pornographic purposes) increase by 3 levels; if the victim was placed in the care or custody of another person who does not have a legal right to such care or custody of the child either in exchange for money or other consideration, increase by 3 levels; if the defendant allowed the child to be subjectod to any of the conduct specified in this section by another person, then increase by 2 levels.
(h) As used in this section, the term "parent" does not include a person whose parental rights with respect to the victim of an offense under this section have been terminated by a final court order."
1204. 'International parental kidnapping',Chapter 55, Title 18 of the U.S Code:
(a) Whoever removes a child from the United States or retains a child (who has been in the Unitod States) outside the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) the term "child" means a person who has not attained the age of 16 years; and
(2) the term "parental rights", with respect to a child, means the right to physical custody of the child-
(A) whether joint or sole (and includes visiting rights); and
(B) whether arising by operation of law, court order, or legally binding agreement of the parties.
(C) It shall be an affirmative defense under this section that-
(1) the defendant acted within the provisions of a valid court order granting the defendant logal custody or visitation rights and that order was obtained pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and was in effect at the time of the offense;
(2) the defendant was fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence;
(3) the defendant had physical custody of the child pursuant to a court order granting logal custody or visitation rights and failed to return the child as a result of circumstances beyond the defendant's control, and the defendant notified or made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent or lawful custodian of the child of such circumstances within 24 hours after the visitation period had expired and returned the child as soon as possible.
(d) This section does not detract from The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, done at The Hague on October 25, 1980.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act 1980 (Title 28 U.S Code 1738A)
This Act extended certain federal investigative resources to local authorities in order to locate and apprehend abducting parents.
Missing Children Act 1982. ( Title 28, Ch 33 U.S Code 534 (a) )
This Act authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to enter and maintain information about missing persons in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Access to that information helps federal, state, and local officials in locating those persons.
Missing Children's Assistance Act 1984 ( Title 42, Ch 72 U.S Code 5771 et seq. )
This law requires the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the department of Justice to:
1. Create a national, toll free telephone line to receive reports of sightings of missing childrenand to assits in reuniting such children with their family.
2. Create a national ressource center and clearinghouse to provide technical assistance to those seeking to locate and recover missing children.
3. Monitor contracts and grants to the public agencies and private non profit agencies for activities in prevention, location, and recovery of missing children and research into the causes of missing children.
National Child Search Assistance Act 1990 (Title 42 U.S Code 5780)
This Act requires each federal, state, local law enforcement agency to report each case of a missing child younger than the age of 18 to the NCIC. It further states that no agency is to maintain any policy establishing a waiting period before accepting a missing child report.
Missing Children Record Flagging Act.
The purpose of such an Act is to enable authorities to locate missing children by using administrative records such as birth certificate, school records, day care records. Anytime a child is missing all the records are " flagged ". That means that any person who asks for informations about the child records will be identified and located.
The United States are part of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980 since 1988.
The initial response to a missing child case by a law enforcement agency is decisive because there is seldom a clear indication as to whether the child has simply wandered off or been delayed and will be found in a short time or been abducted. Officers take into account unusual circumstances surrounding the child's disappearance and then classify the case in " urgent " category, or " less urgent ".
Police officers are aware of the agencies and organisations that are able to provide assistance in the search for missing children.
1. NATIONAL CRIME INFORMATION CENTER (NCIC)
The NCIC, established in 1967, is a nationwide, on line computer / telecommunications system maintained by the FBI that makes millions of records on wanted, missing and unidentified persons that instantaneously available to local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies throughout the United States and Canada. NCIC has created a number of specialized information files and data retrieval programs that are of significant benefit to the law enforcement officer. When investigating cases of missing or abduted children, officers will find 3 NCIC files to be of particuliar value when used along with the Wanted Person File (WPF) :
2. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Assistance of the FBI can be provided to the officers investigating on missing children cases. Officers may utilize the FBI to access the services of the Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit (CASKU). CASKU can assist by consulting and providing profiles of unknown offenders, personality assessments, investigative strategies, and interview techniques.
In addition to assistance in nonfamily abduction cases, involvement of FBI can also be included in certain family abduction cases. If the abducting parent or family member is the subject of a state felony custodial interference charge, the State prosecutor can request the U.S. Attorney to authorize issuance of a federal Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant. Once the warrant is issued, the FBI is authorized to begin an investigation to locate and apprehend the abducting family member.
Collaboration with international organizations, non governmental organizations (N.G.O.) or private associations.
Investigators can request INTERPOL to issue an international wanted alert called a Red Notice about abductors directed to police and border authorities which would be very useful in cases of international abductions.
INTERPOL can also issue Yellow Notices when a person, especially a minor, is reported missing from his usual place of residence. Yellow Notices are specially issued in case of missing persons.
2. NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN (NCMEC)
The NCMEC has been created in 1984. It is mandated by the Congress to be the resource center for child protection in the United States. NCMEC works with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as the national clearinghouse for information on cases of abducted, runaway, and / or sexually exploited youth.. NCMEC does not investigate such cases but provides assistance to law enforcement agencies such as technical assistance, information dissemination, and advice by experts, former experienced officers. NCMEC has access to the NCIC.
Most states have missing and exploited children clearinghouse.
3. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR SEACH AND RESCUE (NASAR)
NASAR is a nationwide organization of volunteers and paid professional dedicated to finding and aiding people in distress. It will provide the investigator with informationon how to contact rescue units that operate in the vicinity and can respond to the jurisdiction in the event of a missing or abducted child report.
The use of the medias is an effective mean in the missing children cases. Broadcasting on TV or radio requests of informations about missing children is often valuable.
NCMEC has a toll free hotline phone number for registering complaints and collecting informations about missing children cases 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Websites are also available in connection with NCMEC such as www.missingkids.com
, or www.kidsbesafe.com
. Any person who has information, anywhere in the world is able to give it, and websites provide informations that other means could not do such as photographs of the missing children.
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