The greatest fear of many crime victims of crime is that their attacker will be released from custody without their knowledge. Now, crime victims across Washington State can go online or use their phone to find out when those who have attacked them are released, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Crime-victim advocates say that will give the victims a tool to plan for their safety. “Where there wasn’t victim notification, now there is,” said Donald Pierce of the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs, which will implement the program. Called VINE, for Victim Information Notification Everyday, the computerized program has been available by telephone in three counties. The program is linked to jail systems, which continually update the status of inmates. Users register, anonymously if they choose, and are notified when the person in whom they’re interested is released or their custody status changes if, for example, they are moved to a different facility.
Crime victims may register by visiting the Web site, www.vinelink.com, or by calling 877-846-3492. The program is set up to notify a person by phone, calling him or her continuously for a 24-hour period until the person enters a personal identification number to demonstrate he or she has received the information. Though intended to help crime victims, anyone can access the site to find out the incarceration status of an individual. Registration is required if a user wants to be notified of a change in status.