CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia has strengthened an
important tool that supports, protects and empowers crime victims and survivors
by providing timely and reliable offender information.
The state’s Division of
Corrections and Rehabilitation has expanded the Victim Information and
Notification Everyday (VINE) network to all 10 regional jails. It has also adopted
VINE’s new and enhanced features for all correctional facilities including
“It is very important for safety,
for victims to be notified or to be able to know when the offender is getting
back onto the street or has posted bond,” said Commissioner Betsy Jividen.
Appriss Safety is the developer of
VINE, a free service that allows victims to anonymously check an offender’s
custody status by phone, internet and mobile app. Victims can also receive
real-time alerts of changes to an offender’s custody status by registering for
notifications by app, phone, email, and text.
“They can rest easy at night,
knowing where the perpetrator is,” said Tonia Thomas, a team coordinator with
the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “And when perpetrators
get released, they can also prepare for that release and maybe prepare for
their safety and take extra precautions.”
Enhanced VINE offers users
innovative functionality and expanded access to victim services. West Virginia
began extending VINE to the regional jails in May. It completed that process
with the final two jails this week.
“Appriss is very proud to expand
our partnership with the West Virginia DCR and introduce this new suite of VINE
features to crime victims throughout the state,” said Josh Bruner, Appriss
Safety president. “We are thrilled that the citizens of West Virginia are now
able to benefit from a more streamlined user experience, and that we are able to
increase accessibility to victim-centered services that will help guide them on
their road to recovery.”
The enhanced system’s new features
include an interactive VINE Service Provider Directory that allows users
seeking assistance to connect directly with both local and national victim
service providers. To date, 16 West Virginia service providers have joined the
VINE Service Provider Directory.
West Virginia’s rape crisis
centers have long worked with VINE, which corrections first adopted in 2002.
The network has become part of their safety planning for sexual assault
victims, said State Coordinator Nancy Hoffman of the W.Va. Foundation for Rape
Information and Services, Inc.
“As the state’s sexual assault
coalition, we applaud the expansion of VINE to include the regional jails,”
Hoffman said. “Sexual assault cases often have a lengthy process through the
criminal justice system. Safety is of paramount concern to victims of sexual
violence, and knowing when an offender charged with sexual assault is released
from jail on bond prior to a trial enables victims to plan for their safety and
take additional precautions (such as protective orders) as needed.”
Kanawha County Sheriff Mike
Rutherford said VINE goes hand-in-hand with his office’s Victims Services Unit
and that of other law enforcement agencies.
“It’s one of the most important
jobs we have, to help the victims of various crimes, particularly the more
personal type of crime such as domestic violence or sexual assault,” Rutherford
said. “Even breaking into your home or business can be devastating to a lot of
people. Once you’re the victim of a crime, it’s really something that affects
you deeply, it affects your family, it affects everything you do.”
consolidation of West Virginia’s correctional system helped facilitate VINE’s
expansion, which required no state funding thanks to federal Victims of Crime
2018 West Virginia VINE figures:
23,088 West Virginians registered
to use VINE’s services.
14,969 notifications provided to
West Virginia VINE users through outbound calls, emails, text messages, letters
and TTY, a device used to communicate with hearing or speech impaired
40,342 offender searches conducted
using the VINE website and mobile applications, with 27,508 of those via DCR.
For more information:
To access the enhanced West
Virginia VINE service: www.vinelink.com.
Free VINELink mobile app: https://apprisssafety.com/solutions/vine/vinemobile
Victim Services, W.Va. Division of
Corrections and Rehabilitation: https://dcr.wv.gov/services/victimservices/Pages/default.aspx
W.Va. Coalition Against Domestic
W.Va. Foundation for Rape
Information and Services: https://www.fris.org
Kanawha County Sheriff Victim
Services Unit: https://www.kanawhasheriff.us/about-us/community-outreach/victim-services-unit/
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