Crime victims have access

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 11, 2002

Victims of crime in Lawrence County can now place a call and find the status of the offender.

Monday, March 11, 2002

Victims of crime in Lawrence County can now place a call and find the status of the offender.

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Victim Information and Notification Everyday, or VINE, provides offender custody status by phone, day or night.

The VINE service provides victims and concerned citizens can call a toll-free number to receive up-to-date information on the county’s offenders.

The VINE system also gives callers the option to receive automatic notification when an offender is scheduled for release or transferred to another facility.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton said the service allows victims to have some peace of mind. "Many times, crime victims live in a state of fear that’s difficult for others to comprehend. VINE accomplishes around the clock access to offender information to victims of crime."

Sexton said the VINE system is "safe and completely anonymous."

"One of the most important things we can do for victims is to help protect them. At the same time, we want to try to restore what the offender has taken away from our crime victim, and that’s a feeling of independence and individual empowerment."

The nation call center for VINE, Sexton said, is located in Louisville, Ky. An offender database is electronically linked to the Lawrence County Jail booking system. If an inmate is lodged in the county jail, Sexton explained, but then there is a change in the inmate’s location, the call center will automatically call all persons registered for that inmate.

Victims call the VINE system and will be given a series of prompts guiding them through the registration process. VINE will ask for a phone numbers and a four-digit PIN from those calling.

Notification calls will go to the phone number registered by the victim. Victims may call back and register additional phone numbers if they desire.

If notified by VINE, a victim will be asked to enter the four-digit PIN established during the initial registration. Entering the PIN confirms a successful notification and stops any further calls.

And crime victims don’t have to worry about missing the call. Notification calls will continue every half-hour for 24 hours or until notification is confirmed with the registered individual. If VINE reaches an answering machine, it will leave a message prompting the registered user to call.

The VINE program began in 1994 in Jefferson County, Ky. Today, the VINE program serves more than 850 communities in 37 states.