WWW.APPRISS.COM • A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER OF APPRISS™ INC. • FALL 2002 Attorney General Greg Abbott Champions Statewide Victim Notification Texas’ 50th Attorney General to Oversee Implementation of Texas VINE In 2000, the State of Texas took a historic step on behalf of offender’s custody or district court status changes. On a per- crime victims. sonal level, the victim’s sense of safety, and willingness to take The Texas State Legislature passed HB 1572, which part in the criminal justice system, are enhanced by provided the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) timely and accurate notification. with funding for a new statewide notification ser- A single, toll-free number will allow users to call for vice. Passage of this important bill means crime up-to-date offender custody and court information. victims, and other concerned Texans, will have a Callers will also have the option to register for auto- single source of current offender custody and distric matic notification when an offender’s custody or court court information. VINE (Victim Information and No- status changes. tification Everyday) was selected to provide auto- While several counties in Texas have automated victim mated victim notification services. notification systems in place, there is currently no stan- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will oversee dardized, statewide system supporting all 254 coun- the implementation of Texas VINE. Abbott is a dis- ties, their local jails and courts. Multiple indepen- tinguished jurist with a commitment to victims’ Texas Attorney General dent county systems, with multiple telephone num- rights, and an award-winning former state District Greg Abbott bers, make the process difficult and confusing for Court judge and Texas Supreme Court justice. victims. It’s especially confusing for victims who reside outside the county in which the crime took place. Crime Victim Services Director Herman Millholland, Program Manager Dr. Gary Walker, and Project Manager Jeff Closson Appriss Inc., the nation’s leading provider of automated are managing the implementation of Texas VINE. notification services, has been certified by the OAG to provide At the legislative level, the Texas State Constitution guarantees crime victims the right to notification when their See Abbott, continued on page 2 “The Sheriffs Association of Texas VINE has been an Texas strongly supports excellent tool for crime the implementation of victims in my jurisdiction. Statewide Automated Victim VINE helps to enhance the lives Notification. I would encourage of crime victims’ by providing each county to participate in them the real time information J.B. Smith this very important program.” Raven Kazen and notification that they need Jaime Esparza Sheriff, Victim Services Director when they need it.” District Attorney, Smith County TDCJ 34 th District “Texas Vine provides victims of crime with “I am proud to have sponsored information and notification regarding an ”Victims of crime in Harris HB 1572. The right to be offender’s custody and status in local jails, County have come to rely on notified of significant events in as well as information and notification the VINE system for crucial the criminal justice system is regarding court events as they move up-to-the-minute one of the most basic and through the criminal justice process. VINE information regarding jailed important rights afforded to would compliment the Texas Department offenders. With VINE, crime crime victims here in the State of Criminal Justice’, existing Automated victims know when a criminal Victim Notification System by providing of Texas. This Statewide defendant is going to court or crime victims with needed pre-convic- Automated Victim Notification tion status information. is about to be released. I am Todd Staples Service will help to meet the Texas VINE is another invaluable tool to thrilled we are able to provide Robert Eckels State Senator needs of victims, as well as, ensure the rights of victims are not only this valuable resource for the County Judge, enhance the ability of your recognized but are enhanced by taking citizens of Harris County.” Harris County county to make important advantage of today’s latest technologies.” information and notification available to our Citizens.” Texas VINE an Important Source of Protection for Crime Victims Knowing when an offender is back out on the • help victim advocates and law enforcement streets can make the difference between life and officials aid and protect crime victims death. Without a reliable source of offender Full-service promotional assistance to ensure custody and district court case information, vic- community awareness and usage tims and other concerned citizens would have Texas VINE will support your staff and victim to call jails and courts repeatedly to stay in- service personnel with training, and tactics to formed. help raise awareness of Texas VINE in your community. These services include: Offender custody • Texas VINE training and education workshops, and district court in- which give staff members, law enforcement, and formation will soon victim service providers the information they need to be easily accessible educate the community for all Texans. • promotional materials, designed to generate Texas VINE (Victim awareness of Texas VINE Information and • media resources, such as public service announcements, Notification Everyday), media releases, and press conference assistance is a toll-free, • long-range planning, which includes monitoring 24-hour hotline Texas VINE usage patterns and strategies designed service that provides to help maximize usage up-to-date offender custody and court Helping victims gain control information. It Texas VINE helps crime victims help themselves. By automatically notifies dialing a toll-free number, Texas VINE: registered users, • fosters a sense of security and safety, 24 hours a within minutes, if an offender is released, transferred, day, for the victim, their friends and family escapes, or if there is a change in an offender’s court • helps victims regain a sense of control over their status. Texas VINE can deliver automated updates lives via phone, letter, fax, or email in English or Spanish. • empowers victims with valuable information about their offender’s custody and/or court status Why automated notification? • gives victims a timely, accurate and toll-free source VINE is an important tool for victims and law of information throughout the criminal justice enforcement, because it can: process • help a county meet its legislative mandate to • features 24 hour access to live operators for notify crime victims when an offender has a change personal assistance in custody status or district court date • give victims round-the-clock access to vital offender information, providing them with a sense of control and peace of mind Abbott, continued from page 1 Texas VINE to all counties. The OAG will provide project oversight and funding and Appriss will contract directly with the counties that choose to join the program. The VINE service, Appriss’ premier product offering, is used in more than 1,200 counties in 36 states. Seventeen states have contracted to use the service on a statewide basis. Appriss also provides victim notification services to the U.S. Department of Justice. Texas VINE – Frequently Asked Questions What is Crime Victim Notification? criminal justice system. The law Counties will be awarded a grant for Victims’ Rights — enforcement community is often funding the service with the The right to be notified of significant pushed to the limits of its resources, certified provider (Appriss). events in the criminal justice system which can make it difficult to notify is one of the most basic rights af- victims in a timely manner. These Will I have to change my existing forded crime victims in the Texas systems provide an efficient and booking and / or court system State Constitution, Art.1, Section 30. reliable means of notification. software? The Office of the Attorney General Victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, No. The automated system will (OAG) Crime Victims’ Institute (CVI) victim advocates, and other interface with the existing booking conducted a survey, which revealed criminal justice professionals have and/ or court systems, not replace that less than 42 percent of the immediate access to offender them. If the current systems are not violent crime victims surveyed information. automated, Appriss will provide the received notification. Attribution – OAG-SAVNS RFP 7/2/02 county with a computer that will serve as an automated tool for Benefits to the Criminal Justice What is the current situation in providing this data to Texas VINE. Community — Texas? Offender custody status notification, While there are several victim How will the automated notifica- and notification of case events, are notification systems in place in Texas, tion system affect workload? important services to victims. The there is currently no statewide There is no requirement for staff to victim’s sense of safety, and standardized system supporting all enter additional information. Texas willingness to participate in the 254 counties and their local jails and VINE will use existing custody and criminal justice system, are courts. Multiple systems with district court information. Non-au- enhanced when communication is multiple telephone numbers tomated counties will need to enter automated and ensured. currently make the process difficult minimal basic offender or court Texas VINE offers: and confusing for victims, especially event information into a computer. • An efficient means of notification those who may reside outside the This computer will provide data to in a system that’s often overburdened county in which the crime occurred. Texas VINE. and unable to fulfill its mandates The implementation of a single entry point (one toll-free statewide Will agencies be required to pro- • Immediate access to offender number) for victims to receive vide computer equipment to par- information for law enforcement, standard information and notification ticipate? prosecutors, victim advocates, and on offender status and district court No, Appriss will provide all other criminal justice professionals events would better meet victims’ equipment required for the • A means for law enforcement to needs and enhance their safety. interface. Equipment such as the empower crime victims with vital Attribution – OAG-SAVNS RFP7/2/02 hardware and phone lines, as well information as ongoing monitoring, maintenance, • The ability to provide consistent How will the system be funded? and repair of equipment will be criminal justice service for all citizens The 77th Texas legislative session provided by Appriss, as part of the of Texas passed HB 1572, which appropriated contract. • A reliable system that helps law funds to the OAG for statewide enforcement maintain a victim’s automated victim notification. Who will be included and what anonymity types of notifications will be made? • Automated service, allowing jails The Texas VINE notification system and courts to route calls concerning will include information and custody and district court status to notification regarding county jail the Texas VINE line inmates and district court events. • Compliance with victims’ rights Types of notifications will notification statutes for sheriffs and include release, transfer, escape, district attorneys. and court events. If you have Automated victim notification questions, please send them to systems have direct benefits for the firstname.lastname@example.org Current Contracted Counties for Texas VINE Contracted Counties Texas VINE Contact Information Office of the Attorney General Crime Victim Notification Program-004 Dr. Gary Walker TEXAS VINE: Next Steps Program Manager P Box 12548 .O. Each county has received an information package about the project for review. This package includes service agree- 300 W. 15th Street ments, scope-of-work information, and more detailed in- William Clements Building formation about the Texas VINE project. In order to Austin, TX 78711-2548 establish the project planning and implementation plan, Phone: (512) 936-1653 it is important that each participating county return the Fax: (512) 708-8799 signed service agreement and grant contract as soon as E-mail address: email@example.com possible. For more information go to www.appriss.com/ TexasVine/home.html Appriss, Provider of the VINE Service Joe Rayome Please also take a moment to view a video regarding Texas Account Executive VINE at www.appriss.com/video. 10401 Linn Station Road, Suite 200 Louisville, KY 40223 Phone: (800) 816-0491, ext. 3897 Fax: (502) 561-1825 E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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