Fifteen years ago, the victim notification era began when Kentucky initiated its Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system, which alerts crime victims when their offender is being released, paroled or moved to another facility, says USA Today. The system has spread to 47 other states, with Connecticut and New Mexico launching this year, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Recktenwald of Appriss Inc., which owns and operates the service. Most states pay for the program through federal grant money, though some states contribute.
The service allows victims to make a toll-free phone call or go online at www.vinelink.com to check an offender’s information. Users also can register to be notified by phone or e-mail, and in the coming months by text message, if an offender’s custody status changes. The program has expanded to include 2,600 communities. It’s statewide in 40 states and in some communities in seven others. Kansas, South Dakota and Maine are the only states where it is not being used, Recktenwald said.