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Associated Press, Published January 18 2010

New victim notification system running in ND

BISMARCK (AP) — A system to notify crime victims of changes involving offenders is up and running in North Dakota, and will be expanded this spring and next year.

The Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification system is a database on inmates in the custody of jails, the state Department of Corrections, and Parole and Probation. It is available by Internet or telephone.

Victims and concerned citizens can sign up to receive notification by e-mail or telephone when an inmate's status changes, such as if they are released on bond.

Program manager Amy Vorachek said there also is a module that gets information to law enforcement officers. Later this spring, a module on people with protection orders will be up, and in spring 2011 there will be one to update people on court proceedings.

"When (offenders) are in jail, I'm sure (victims') peace of mind is there," said Burleigh County Sheriff's Capt. Lisa Wicks. Once victims know an offender has been released, they can take the necessary precautions for their safety, she said.

The program, which is paid for by federal grants, began in June 2008. People can now search for registered sex offenders and people in 18 jails or in the custody of state Corrections or state Parole and Probation. The state's remaining seven jails should be online sometime this spring, Vorachek said.

ND SAVIN is the state's version of VINE, Victim Information and Notification Everyday, a notification system that began in Kentucky in 1994 after 21-year-old Mary Byron was killed the prior year by an ex-boyfriend. Byron's killer had previously been jailed for raping her, and she was unaware he had been released from custody. The program now is used at some level in all states except South Dakota, Kansas and Maine.

To use the North Dakota system, people can go to www.vinelink.com or call 866-631-8463.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.