Though the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs website is still offline, a special exception has now been made to keep the Amber Alert program’s website up. The website had been taken down this weekend along with the rest of the Office of Justice Program’s websites. That site now displays a Department of Justice seal on a white background with the message “Due to a lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website is unavailable.”
The shutdown of the site was part of the greater government shutdown caused by congress’ failure to pass a stop-gap spending bill. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have refused to vote on a version of the bill that does not contain rollbacks for the unrelated Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as “Obamacare”).
Though initial reports stated that the Amber Alert system itself was down, it has now been confirmed that the system was still active while the website was down. A Huffington Post report this morning quoted a Justice Department spokesperson as saying the website was turned back on this morning “to eliminate any confusion.” The report also states that one Department of Justice employee was taken off furlough to bring the website back up.
The Amber Alert system is a partnership between the Department of Justice, broadcasters, and other organizations to publicize child-abductions in the U.S. The program was founded in 1996 and named after a young girl who was kidnapped and later found murdered in Arlington, Texas in January 1996.