3 Replies to “Amber Alerts Often Don’t Work. A New Law Gives Local Police More Control.”

  1. Are the criteria for issuing Amber Alerts and the disparities in their effectiveness indicative of broader systemic challenges within the criminal justice system? The article mentions a lot of issues regarding this stringent criteria and the overall ineffectiveness of the Amber Alert system. The criteria for issuing Amber Alerts often require law enforcement to have a reasonable belief that an abduction has occurred and that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. These criteria can sometimes be too stringent, leading to delays in issuing alerts, as law enforcement tries to gather enough information to meet these requirements. This delay can be critical in cases where time is of the essence, as is noted in Athena Strand’s case. On another note, striking a balance between issuing too many alerts and not issuing enough is challenging. Overusing the system can lead to public desensitization and reduced effectiveness, while underusing it may result in missed opportunities to recover abducted children. Finding the right balance is essential and a major issue across a lot of different aspects of the criminal justice system. Another issue that is prevalent across the criminal justice system is the issue of racial disparities. The article mentions that Amber Alerts are more effective for Anglo and Hispanic children compared to Black children. The racial disparities in the Amber Alert system reflect the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Balancing the need for immediate alerts with the risk of overuse and addressing disparities are crucial considerations for policymakers and law enforcement agencies working to enhance the system’s performance.

    1. Hi Raegan, great question. As I read this article, I was thinking about Amber Hagerman’s abduction and subsequent murder. Although not mentioned in the article, a witness saw Amber’s abduction take place and immediately contacted authorities. Had her information been shared within the community more quickly, her death may have been prevented. Criminological research has long indicated that in cases of child abduction, the first 48 hours are crucial and that after that, chances of safe recovery quickly plummet. There is literally a cable TV show named “The First 48.” Obviously, there is a disparity in what is common knowledge and the law. First and foremost, the goal of Amber Alerts should be to dispel information as urgently as possible. The bureaucratic hoops described in this article only impede this process and may, as you suggested, be rooted in more wide-scale issues within the criminal justice system.

    2. Hi Raegan. I think you question is important to understanding the criminal justice system. When a system creates small sub-programs they tend to have similar qualities as the original system. It would be as if a person had a child, and they shared DNA. With that in mind the racial disparities, large or small, throughout the criminal justice system can be seen in Amber Alerts and instead it is by the community. It was pointed out that Amber Alerts were more effective for Anglo and Hispanic children, and that is a testament to their community rather than the system itself. Amber Alerts are intended to rely on the citizens help in solving a missing child case. When Amber Alerts show racial disparities, it instead can be indicative of the community rather than the system. In terms of the criteria for Amber Alerts, I do feel as though they are too stringent. Understanding that they are stringent brings into question, what in the criminal justice system is not. Each law and policy is set in specific ways with specific guide lines, only allowing for loop holes by those who throughly understand. The strictness of the criminal justice system is just another set of DNA passed onto the Amber Alert system, for better or for worse.

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