New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Eliot Spitzer, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner
For immediate release:
December 18, 2007
Detailed Information to Help Crime Victims Now Available On-Line
Crime victims can now easily access information on the internet that allows them to be promptly notified when the offender is released from prison, to offer a crime victim impact statement before the offender’s release, and to learn about support services that help them deal with their trauma.
The New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) has added a link on its web site, in both English and Spanish, with printable victim notification forms, telephone numbers and other information to assist crime victims.
The links are: http://www.doccs.ny.gov/VictimSvc/vsoverview.html; and http://www.doccs.ny.gov/VictimSvc/vsoverview_sp.html for the Spanish version.
Using these links, crime victims can:
- Arrange for email, telephone and/or written notification of any change in an inmate’s custody status.
- Access a printable and confidential victim notification form to send to the Department that enables them to be notified automatically when the offender is released, whether through discharge, parole, conditional release or release to post-release supervision; dies; enters a furlough or temporary release (work release) program under which they spend time during their sentence outside of prison; escapes; or absconds. The forms are not held at correctional facilities and inmates do not have access to them. Submitters of forms receive written responses that provide additional information on their rights, including the VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) telephone notification service, the New York State Crime Victims Board Victim Compensation Program and the Division of Parole’s Victim Impact process.
- Get answers to frequently asked questions.
- Receive basic information about DOCS’ Office of Victim Services.
- Access the Victim Reference Guide, which provides contact information and helpful facts, such as how to find out what correctional facility inmates are in, their crimes of conviction and sentences.
DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “While it is the Department’s mission to provide security and treatment of nearly 63,000 offenders while offering programs to prepare them for their return to society, we never lose sight of the needs and concerns of the victims who deserve our support, protection and information. The addition to our web site is meant to provide additional assistance to all victims of crime across the state.”
Tina M. Stanford, chairwoman of the Crime Victims Board, said: “Included in the Crime Victims Board’s mission is our responsibility, ‘. . . to advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.’ I believe this is not only crucial to our mission, but to all agencies in New York State whose purposes touch the lives of innocent victims of crime. I commend the Department of Correctional Services for recognizing the importance of victims’ services and including this important information on their public website.”
Patricia M. Gioia, Albany Chapter Leader of Parents Of Murdered Children & Other Survivors of Homicide Victims, said: “Parents Of Murdered Children welcomes the additional links now posted on DOCS’ website giving crime victims’ families important information about their loved one’s offender. Easy access from a home computer will assure family members that they are properly registered with DOCS, and that they will receive information on the offender’s release and/or parole, filing victim impact statements and collection of restitution. We are pleased, too, that the link advises how to access needed support services.”
The new features supplement information that had already been on the web site advising victims of a toll-free phone number - 1-888-VINE-4NY (1-888-846-3469) - they can call around the clock to receive crime, sentence and release data on individual inmates and to register to receive telephone notification about a particular inmate’s release from prison. The service offers live operators and is in both English and Spanish. The phone identification system was authorized under the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) program created as part of the 1998 Jenna’s Law, which eliminated discretionary parole for first-time violent offenders.
(Patricia Gioia can be reached at (518) 377-1660 or firstname.lastname@example.org)