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Kentucky awarded more than half a million in funding to enhance the victim notification system

VINE has been an integral part of the criminal justice system in Kentucky for nearly 25 years, according to Corrections Commissioner Cookie Crews.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Corrections awarded $551,000 in grant funding to make enhancements to the state’s victim notification system, Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced Monday. 

When VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) launched in 1996 Kentucky was the first state in the nation to provide automatic notifications to crime victims statewide. The system provides those who register for the free service, timely and reliable custody status updates via email, phone call.

“This technology can save lives and we are proud to now be able to fund much-needed enhancements,” Corrections Commissioner Cookie Crews said.

VINE was born out of tragedy; the Louisville murder of Mary Byron on her 21st birthday in 1993. According to Crews, Mary was killed by an estranged boyfriend who she thought was still in jail on charges of raping, assaulting and stalking her. 

RELATED: Continuing the fight for Mary Byron and victims of domestic violence

Mary’s parents had requested to be notified of his release but that didn’t happen. The Byrons were instrumental in the development of a system that would provide an automatic notification for victims, Crews said.

Key features of Kentucky Enhanced VINE:

  • An expanded mobile platform for a seamless web/mobile experience
  • Voice-driven phone experience (in English) for victims to search via voice prompts for a faster and more intuitive means of service
  • A heightened emphasis on confidentiality and security with the option of a password protected user account and a “quick escape” feature to quickly exit the application
  • Victims can now create a personalized watch list, allowing them to gain updated information for more than one offender at a time
  • The ‘Help Guide Me’ feature allows users to search for service providers by zip code or county as well as by type of service
  • A comprehensive service provider network will be managed and screened by the Department of Corrections, Victim Services Branch, to communicate with victims/survivors who request assistance.

The new platform will take several months to complete and Enhanced Vine is expected to launch September 2021.

VINE is the flagship product of Appriss Insights, a Louisville-based company.

The supplemental funding under the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), a federal grant program supporting direct assistance services to victims and survivors of all types of crimes, will help to enhance the VINE system platform and offer many new features for victims and victim service providers, a press release from Kentucky Justice and Public Safety states.

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