New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner
Office of Public Information
For immediate release:
Monday January 11, 1999
New database systems providing public with vital information on criminals
At the direction of Governor George E. Pataki, the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) has established two publicly accessible database information systems where crime victims and others can obtain free vital information on New York state inmates and parolees.
On January 1, in conjunction with last year's enactment of Jenna's Law, a 24-hour-a-day, toll-free automated telephone information system was established to afford crime victims and others up-to-the-minute information on approximately 70,300 current state inmates, except for youthful offenders. That information includes the inmate's crime, current location in the prison system and date of earliest possible release.
Known as the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system, it also can provide important free telephone notification to crime victims when an inmate is released. The new database program, which is available in both English and Spanish, could be expanded later this year to include information on parolees and others who have been released from the state prison system.
Additionally, DOCS on January 6 unveiled a Web site where members of the public with Internet access can obtain - once again without charge - similar crime and release date information on nearly 500,000 past and present New York state inmates, with the exception of youthful offenders. Additional information on the inmate's age, ethnicity, race, sentence and county of commitment also can be obtained by accessing this database system. Although in its infancy, the Web site already is generating in excess of 1,000 Internet "hits" a day. That number is expected to increase dramatically as more and more members of the public learn of the new inmate lookup system.
"For far too long, the rights of New York state criminals have outstripped the rights of law-abiding citizens," said Governor Pataki. "Through new initiatives such as VINE and the inmate lookup Web site, crime victims and others will have easy and unfettered access to vital information about inmates and parolees and be afforded the notification, knowledge and accompanying protections which they and their loved ones so richly deserve. The public has the right to know."
"VINE and the inmate lookup Web site continue the efforts of this Department and Governor Pataki to provide law-abiding citizens throughout New York with up-to-date, important information on those who have committed crimes against society," said DOCS Commissioner Glenn S. Goord. "It's a service that is long overdue the public, and one that we're pleased to be able to now provide."
To access information from VINE, crime victims should first contact the prosecuting District Attorney's Office to get the inmate's New York State Identification Number (NYSID) or date of birth. Then, by dialing 1-888-VINE-4NY (1-888-846-3469) from any touch-tone phone and entering the inmate's NYSID number or full name and date of birth, crime and release data can be obtained immediately.
Members of the public can also register with VINE for automatic notification by telephone if a particular inmate is released, either from custody or into a temporary release program. To register for that no-charge notification service, callers will be asked to provide a phone number at which to be notified. A four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) selected by the caller allows VINE to confirm the caller's identity while at the same time keeping that identity confidential.
The new inmate lookup Web site can be accessed seven days a week, 24 hours a day through the Department's main site at www.doccs.ny.gov/ The new database continues a trend in New York state government to make more and more vital information available to the public via computer hookups to the Internet.
The Web site database will include information on inmates currently in custody and approximately 60,000 parolees, plus the names of people who were in the state prison system anytime since the late 1970s, when the database was created. The Web site will use information already in the Department's computer system, with new data entered as inmates enter the system. The only inmates who will be kept off the online list are youthful offenders - those whose records the court has ordered sealed because of their young age at the time of conviction.
To access inmate information via the Internet, the first and last name of an inmate or parolee, and preferably a date of birth, is required. Information also can be obtained by providing the inmate's NYSID or Department Identification Number (DIN).