Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
David A. Paterson, Governor
Brian Fischer, Commissioner

Contact: Erik Kriss
Office of Public Information
(518) 457-8182
ejkriss@doccs.ny.gov
www.doccs.ny.gov

For immediate release:

November 30, 2009

New York to Become First State to Provide On-Line Victim Notification System in Spanish Statewide

New York will soon become the first state to provide the on-line version of its victim information and notification system in Spanish statewide for any concerned citizen.

With U.S. Census data showing that more than three million New Yorkers speak Spanish as their primary language at home, the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) is making VINELink, the online version of VINE® (Victim Information and Notification Everyday), available in Spanish in an effort to eliminate language barriers for Spanish-speaking crime victims and concerned citizens. The Spanish-language service is scheduled to begin December 8, 2009.

New York Statewide VINE is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and Web system that allows crime victims and other concerned citizens to track the custody status of offenders in jail or prison and register to be notified by phone or e-mail when an offender is released, transferred from a local facility to DOCS, or escapes.

The expansion of VINELink to include a Spanish-language version available to any concerned citizen was funded with $30,000 in federal grant money through the New York State Crime Victims Board.

Governor David A. Paterson said: “Being the victim of a crime is difficult enough; whatever we as a State can do to assist crime victims, we should. I am proud that through effective use of federal funding, New York is proving itself once again as a national leader, in this case by becoming the first State to make this important service available in Spanish to our large Spanish-speaking population.”

All New Yorkers, regardless of their primary language, can continue accessing VINE by calling toll-free 888-VINE-4NY (888-846-3469) to register using the automated system, or they can communicate with live operators in English, Spanish or virtually any other language through AT&T translation services.

New York’s VINE users can access VINELink at www.vinelink.com by choosing New York on the U.S. map. The new language capability will allow users to toggle between English and Spanish by clicking the language link displayed on the screen, and to search, view and register for notification in Spanish. A comprehensive list of resources for victims also will be available in Spanish to all VINELink users.

DOCS Commissioner Brian Fischer said: “This is another step in our ongoing efforts to help crime victims. Although our agency is directly responsible only for the custody and rehabilitation of offenders, we never forget the victims of the crimes that send those offenders to State prison. Working with the Crime Victims Board, the Division of Parole and other agencies, we are determined to do all we can to provide each victim and concerned citizen with the information they request about the perpetrators of crime.”

Crime Victims Board Chairwoman Tina M. Stanford said: “Crime victims come from all walks of life, backgrounds and cultures. Victims shouldn’t be at a disadvantage to learning information that can be essential to their safety and peace of mind because English isn’t their first language. I am pleased that the Crime Victims Board was able to provide additional resources to the Department of Correctional Services so that it can ensure wider access to this important information.”

NY VINE allows crime victims to register by phone or on line at www.VINELink.com.

VINELink allows crime victims and concerned citizens to:

  • Arrange for email, telephone and/or written notification of any change in an inmate’s custody status.
  • For those offenders placed under parole supervision after release, the registered victim will receive a notification call that includes the address and phone number of the parole office to which the offender is reporting. The registered victim also receives a call informing them if the offender violates the conditions of parole and is returned to State prison. The victim is called again upon the next release. Parole office information is not contained in email notification.

The toll-free VINE phone number was authorized under the VINE program created as part of the 1998 Jenna’s Law, which eliminated discretionary parole for first-time violent offenders. The number allows victims to call live operators around the clock and receive crime, sentence and release data on individual inmates, as well as register to receive telephone notification about a particular inmate’s release from prison.

In addition to VINE, victims can utilize the DOCS webpage at www.doccs.ny.gov for additional information and assistance in English or Spanish. The DOCS webpage allows victims and concerned citizens to:

  • 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. Notification 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 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.