Victims of crime and those who support and serve them are taking center stage to mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 21-28. This year’s theme — “New Challenges, New Solutions” — focuses on the continuing importance of advancing victims’ rights while also celebrating the successes achieved so far.
A vital right for crime victims is the right to be notified when their offender is released from jail or prison. VINE® (Victim Information and Notification Everyday), a free, confidential service available in more than 2,800 communities nationwide, helps support and uphold that right. VINE gives victims and other concerned citizens 24/7/365 access to the custody status of offenders and lets them register for automatic notification via telephone, email or text about key activities related to their cases.
VINE was created in 1994 following the murder of Mary Byron in Louisville, Kentucky. Mary was shot to death on her 21st birthday by her ex-boyfriend, who had been arrested for raping her but was released from jail without her knowledge.
VINE helps crime victims by providing a critical service that enhances their personal safety and helps them make informed choices about their cases, their alleged or convicted offenders, and their lives.
There was a time not long ago when victims had no voice in the criminal justice system — when murder victims’ families were excluded from courtrooms and assault victims paid all their own medical bills. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week honors the victims and advocates who confronted such injustices and helped produce a nationwide system of victim compensation and victims’ rights. But it’s also a reminder that many victims are still struggling for rights and that existing rights are not always enforced, jeopardizing the success of these reforms.
“Crime victims should not be further victimized by being kept in the dark about the status of their offender and their case,” said Appriss CEO Michael Davis. “By keeping them informed and involved in their case, VINE enhances a victim’s safety and provides peace of mind.”
Currently every state has a victims’ bill of rights and a victim compensation program, more than 30 states have victims’ rights constitutional amendments and more than 10,000 victim assistance programs operate in communities across the nation.
To register for VINE or to learn more about the program visit www.vinelink.com.