The state has a service that allows victims to receive alerts when an offender is being released from jail, and has a back up plan in case the service gets interrupted.
The service is called TN SAVIN, Tennessee’s Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification Service, and works through a Web site called VINELink.
VINE is directly connected to the booking computers in county jails across the county.
When a victim or anyone concerned about an offender’s release signs up for the service, they get a phone call and e-mail to alert when that offender’s custody status has changed and is being released from jail.
The free, confidential service will also alert them if the person is transferred, escapes or dies while in custody.
The automated calls continue until the person who signed up for the service enters a four-digit PIN number that they create upon signing up.
TN SAVIN, which has been in operation since 2010, is currently connected to 94 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
“It gives them that heads up before the inmate walks out of jail so they can have time to prepare for that,” SAVIN Program Coordinator Gary Cordell said. “This program can actually save lives.”
However, the system can, and does, stop working from time to time.
Cordell estimates that statewide the service is interrupted on an average of five times a month.
An interruption can happen for a number of reasons, both at the jail and at the headquarters of the Louisville-based Appriss, Inc., which created the service.
“Most of these are short term,” Cordell said. “Immediately, when the system is restored, I get an e-mail telling me the system is restored.”
While the system is down, Appriss and the impacted jail have back up procedures to keep victims updated on offenders’ custody status.
In Montgomery County, the sheriff’s office uses the TN SAVIN program, but also has a form that victims can fill out that will signal the jail to call the victim if the offender is released.
“Peace of mind is all they have when a horrific thing happens in their lives,” Sheriff John Fuson said. “If they are signed up for SAVIN they will get a phone call, but if they fill that form out then one of our jailers will call them if that person is released.”
All of the law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County have a similar form to fill out so a jailer will call the victim personally. They call at least three times in order to reach the victim.
Most of the victims who use TN SAVIN are domestic violence victims, but anyone can sign up to track an offender’s status by going to www.VineLink.com or calling 1-888-868-4631.
Many of the jails who use the service also have a link on their Web site.
Currently, TN SAVIN is connected to 94 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. The Tennessee Sheriff’s Association hopes to have the service in the last county by summer.