Crime victims are getting more help in knowing the whereabouts of burglars, rapists and other offenders who terrorized them and their families, USA Today says. Florida announced last week that it is expanding a notification system that allows victims to keep track of criminals until their release from prison. Texas is beginning an effort to allow victims to track inmates in county jails as well as state prisons. Utah will announce such a plan this week. They are the 16th, 17th and 18th states to adopt the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system statewide. It is available in parts of 18 other states.
The VINE system is the part of a movement begun in the 1960s by local officials, states and the federal government to focus on and help the often-forgotten victims of serious crimes. VINE is a privately run database that has a toll-free telephone number for each state in which it operates as well as a nationwide number for information (1-800-816-0491).
VINE provides information that is updated daily on people who are charged and convicted of serious crimes. It tells of court proceedings and gives notification of a prisoner’s transfer, parole hearings and release. In most states, anyone can use it. States pay $100,000 to $1 million a year to participate, based on inmate population.
“On any given day, about 60% of inmates in county jails and state prisons are on our system,” says Mike Davis, co-founder of the VINE system and president of Appriss Inc. of Louisville, a private company that operates the system and sells it to states. He would like federal aid that would allow VINE to include all inmates.