WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner urged congressional appropriators to provide funding to implement the national Ashanti Alert Act.
The bill is named after 19-year-old Ashanti Billie, who was abducted from JEB Little Creek last year, only to be found murdered in North Carolina.
Under the law, when a national Ashanti Alert is issued, the Department of Justice would work with the Amber Alert network to get the word out. The alert will be used for individuals too old for an AMBER Alert and too young for a Silver Alert.
The Ashanti Alert legislation was signed into law in December of 2018.
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The Ashanti Alert Act requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a national communications network to assist regional and local search efforts for certain missing adults.
“This law was borne out of the tragic death of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Virginia and whose body was discovered 11 days after she was first reported missing. Because Ashanti was too old for an Amber Alert to be issued and no similar network for adults existed at the time, her parents, family, and friends struggled to get word out of her disappearance in a timely fashion,” the Senators wrote in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Full funding and timely implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act is necessary to ensure the safety of Americans.”
The law said the Attorney General is required to designate a national Ashanti Alert Coordinator responsible for helping states establish alert systems and develop voluntary guidelines. The coordinator is also in charge of providing Congress with an annual report detailing the use and progress of Ashanti Alerts in states.
Last month, Sen. Warner pressed Attorney General William Barr for an update on DOJ’s progress to-date in implementing the law.
Full text of the appropriations request is below: