Free notification service available to victims

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VALLEY — During a training session for new and seasoned victims advocates from across the San Luis Valley, Sharon Villanueva from County Sheriffs of Colorado taught them on how people can stay informed and protected about an offender's custody status.

The service, called Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), allows anyone to freely register to receive various updates on specific inmates. If an offender is released, transferred, dead or escaped a person can be informed via phone, text, email, or teleprinter. VINE started in 1994 and is available in every state except for South Dakota and Maine.

In 2013 Colorado passed a bill so that the service would be state-funded. Almost all counties use VINE, however the Colorado Department of Corrections does not. Jefferson and Arapahoe counties will join the program later this year.

"If victims knew they could go on here, or call a number to get signed up, I guarantee you that a lot of them would probably do that," Villanueva, pictured on the right, said on Friday.

Text and email notifications are sent as quickly as possibly, though there can be a 15-minute delay. If opting for a phone call, in addition to the one jails make to victims, then a PIN is required to verify that the message was delivered. The call goes out every half hour for 48 hours until the PIN is entered or the automated service leaves a voicemail.

Aside from a 15-minute delay when pulling live data from the jails, there is also an eight-hour delay with transfer notifications as the offender switches secure facilities.

The public can call 888-263-846 or go online to vinelink.com and colorado-vine.com to sign up anonymously for notifications. The sites are available in 90 languages and alerts are in English and Spanish.

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