Sheriff Smith Cites Victim’s Hotline as Important Tool

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 22-28  

Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith, President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, (NYSSA)  is joining law enforcement leaders throughout the nation to observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

As part of the observance Smith is underscoring the NYSSA Victim’s Hotline as one of the most important tools to protect victims. The Victim Information and Notification Everyday, or “VINE”  program began in 1999. It offers crime victims confidential notification when an offender (who harmed them) is released from prison. VINE gives victims and other concerned parties instant access to the custody status of incarcerated offenders and provides automated telephone and email messages about any change to the inmate’s custody status.

According to Smith, last year nearly 600,000 phone calls and more than 42,000 email inquiries were received by the VINE program from more than 85,000 registered victims. “This is a vital service that enhances the personal safety of those who have been victimized and helps protect them from being re-offended by their alleged or convicted attacker,” said Smith.

In a statement Smith said currently every state has a Victims’ Bill of Rights compensation program, 32 states have victims’ rights constitutional amendments and more than 10,000 victim assistance programs operate in communities across the country. “In Putnam County we are blessed by having organizations like the Putnam-Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center  who are there for victims in time of need,” he said.

Smith urged anyone interested in participating in the New York State Sheriff’s Victims’ Hotline program, or those seeking more information about the program to visit the “VINE” website or call (toll free) 1-888-VINE-4-NY or contact Captain Robert LeFever at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division at 845- 225-5255.

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