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       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
• 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                                                  txvinequestions@appriss.com
     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: gary.walker@oag.state.tx.us    possible. For more information go to www.appriss.com/
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: jrayome@appriss.com

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