Although not specifically targeted only at sex offenders, the Amber Alert system is intended to quickly and widely disseminate information about child abductions. AMBER is an acronym for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.” The sys-tem takes its name from nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996. It uses various media outlets to inform the general public that a child has been abducted. Alerts go out over radio, television, e-mail, electronic traffic-condition signs, and SMS text messages. Law enforcement typically broadcast the name and a description of the abducted child, and a description of the suspected abductor and the abductor’s vehicle, and license plate number, when available.
On April 30, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the PROTECT Act, which established the federal government’s role in the Amber Alert system. The law appropriated $20 million for the National Amber Alert Network for grants to the states for the development or enhancement of notification systems. Every state has an Amber Alert system. According to the Department of Justice, 71 children were recovered in 2004 due to the Amber Alert system.