What is the VINE Prison Release Notification System?
VINE stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday. It is an online, electronic notification and database system that allows crime victims to access information about the custody status of offenders, 24 hours a day. It also provides information on some criminal cases. Basically, it alerts the victim when the offender is to be released.
The VINE system allows victims of crimes to register and be automatically notified by telephone or e-mail whenever the offender’s status or release date changes. The victim’s information is kept confidential, and the offender will not know the identity of any person who registers with the service.
Previously, concerned victims would have to obtain such information either in person at the court or through a complex mail or phone process. Current availability of the VINE System varies by state and jurisdiction; some states have multiple registries while in some states, access can be somewhat limited.
What is the Purpose of the VINE System? How is it Used?
The purpose of the VINE System is to prepare victims and other concerned individuals of an inmate’s release. This can be particularly helpful in cases where the victim’s physical safety may be an issue after the offender is released. While the victim will not be able to prevent the inmate’s release using the VINE System, the victim will at least but put on notice so that they are prepared.
What Information Do I Need to Access the VINE System?
The VINE System is free to use, though availability may vary by state. In order to access the VINE System, you would need the following information:
The offender’s full name (including their middle name or middle initial- inmates may have similar names)
Any aliases or nicknames that the offender may have used
Case number for the criminal charges
Location of the court where the charges were imposed
Offender’s social security number
Former addresses of the inmate
Date of birth
Location of the jail or prison where the inmate is being held
Understandably, you may not have all of this information. Do your best to be as accurate as possible so that the person in question can be properly identified. You may also wish to prepare a brief explanation of why you wish to be registered with the VINE System. Use of the system can help provide you with extra protection against danger or harassment.
More information can be obtained at the VINE website.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Registration with the VINE System may be useful for your situation, but you may wish to contact a lawyer for further advice on what to do once the offender has been released. If you need to obtain a restraining order or temporary injunction, a criminal lawyer can help you file for these documents with the court.
However, you should be aware that if you file for a restraining order or a similar court order, the offender will usually be notified of this and may obtain your personal information such as your address. A court can sometimes issue restraining orders with special instructions prohibiting the release of your information. Consult with a lawyer to determine the safest and most appropriate course of action for your particular circumstances.