Office of Victim Assistance
The Office of Victim Assistance is the primary contact for victims with questions regarding Department policies and procedures. The services provided by the Office are victim driven.
DOCCS' makes a special effort to ensure that victims of crimes do not become forgotten parties in the criminal justice process. DOCCS has worked with the New York State Office of Victim Assistance and local district attorneys to help ensure that victims are aware of their rights with regard to the parole process. Landmark legislation in 1994 allowed for victims to meet face to face with a member of the Board of Parole, or to submit a written victim impact statement to the Board. Procedures have been established allowing the DOCCS to maintain contact with crime victims and, at their request, keep them apprised of parole interview dates and decisions, and the release dates of the offenders who victimized them. The following statutory and policy changes have enhanced victim access to the parole process:
Victims can choose to provide their victim impact statement in person or over the phone with a Parole Board member prior to an inmate's interview with the Parole Board. A verbatim transcript is generated from the victim's impact statement and made available to the Parole Board panel that will interview the inmate;
Victims can have additional face to face or telephone "meeting" with a Parole Board member prior to an inmate's subsequent reappearances. A verbatim transcript is generated from these interviews and made available to the Parole Board panel that will interview the inmate; or a written statement can be submitted in lieu of a face to face or telephone meeting.
Victims may submit video or audio taped victim impact statements to the Department's Office of Victim Assistance if preferred and a toll-free telephone number makes access to the Office of Victim Assistance easier for citizens (1-800-783-6059).
Jenna's Law (1998) provides all citizens an opportunity to call a toll-free number to receive information about inmates released to parole supervision after January 1, 1999. The toll-free number is 1-888-VINE-4-NY (1-888-846-3469) and is available in English and Spanish. Calling the toll-free number allows victims and concerned members of the community to register for telephone notification of an inmate's release from custody. A website, www.vinelink.com, allows victims and concerned members of the community to register for telephone and/or email notification of an inmate's release from custody and District Attorneys have a form available to provide to victims to facilitate registering for victim notification or victims can submit a form through this site, Submit a Request for Victim Notification.
Realizing that victimization is a devastating experience that effects many areas of a victim's life, the Office of Victim Assistance provides services to better meet the needs of victims during the post-sentencing phase of the criminal justice process. Because seemingly minor offenses can be as deeply traumatic as those offenses commonly termed "serious" or "violent" crimes, the Office provides services to victims of all types of crimes. For more information on these services, you may call the Office of Victim Assistance toll-free at 1-800-783-6059 Monday through Friday during regular business hours.
- Victim Notification Form 284 KB
- About the Office of Victim Assistance
- VINE - You have the right to know!
- Frequently Asked Questions
Notification of Inmate Custody Status Change
There are three (3) types of notification services provided by the Office of Victim Assistance
- Written Notification
The prosecutor should provide the victim of a violent felony offense a Victim Notification Form 284 KB to fill out to demand to be informed of the escape, abscondance, discharge, parole, conditional release or release to post-release supervision of the inmate. Upon completion of the form by the victim, the prosecutor submits the form to the Department's Office of Victim Assistance.
Upon receipt of the completed notification form, the Office of Victim Assistance sends an acknowledgment letter to the victim(s). The acknowledgment letter explains that the form has been received and provides additional information on rights of crime victims including the VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) telephone notification service, the New York State Office of Victim Assistance Victim Compensation Program and the Parole Victim Impact process.
All notification forms are confidential. The forms are not held in the Correctional Facilities. Inmates do not have access to the forms.
- Telephone Notification
Anyone who wants notification of an inmate's release can use a touch-tone phone to get information about inmates in the Department's custody and register for notification for any of the following:
- offender's release,
- participation in a furlough or temporary release (work release) program.
The VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) automated telephone system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in both English and Spanish. A live operator can assist a caller who is having difficulty using the system.
To use the VINE system to register for notification dial 1-888-VINE-4-NY (1-888-846-3469), choose option 2 to register against an inmate in a state Correctional Facility and provide the inmate's Department Identification Number (DIN), New York State Identification Number (NYSID) or name and date of birth. Register the phone number you wish to be called to notify you of the inmate's release from custody. You will need to select a four-digit PIN (personal identification number) which is easy to remember. You will need to enter the PIN number at the time you receive the notification call to confirm you have received the notification call. No name or address is collected on the VINE system. The telephone number registered to receive the notification call is confidential.
The VINE telephone notification service is a release notification service only. The service will not inform registrants(s) of upcoming Parole Board interviews or the results of Parole Board interviews. Notification of that information requires the victim(s) to register with the Department's Office of Victim Assistance utilizing the form supplied by the District Attorney office or utilizing the form available on this site.
- E-mail Notification
Victims and other concerned citizens can also register to be notified via e-mail notification through VINELink when an offender's custody status changes. This service allows crime victims to obtain timely and reliable information about remove the custody status of offenders 24 hours a day.
The VINE e-mail notification service is a release notification service only. The service will not inform registrants (s) of upcoming Parole Board interviews or the results of Parole Board interviews. Notification of that information requires the victim(s) to register with the Department's Office of Victim Assistance utilizing the form supplied by the District Attorney office or utilizing the form available on this site.
Apology letters from inmates may be mailed to the DOCCS Office of Victim Assistance. Upon receipt, the letter will be "deposited" in the confidential Apology Letterbank file until the victims or their families request information about the inmate. At that time, it will be explained that there is an apology letter on file. An offer will be made to read the letter to them or mail it to them for them to read at a time and place that is best for them. The inmate will not be told if the victim or their family ever comes forward and requests information about the inmate or if they have accessed the letter.