Webb County just approved a grant today in Commissioners' Court to keep this program going. It started after two women were brutally killed by their offenders when they were released from prison without notice. Now, victims have a way to stay safe.
This 22 year-old man has been a victim of crime. He admits, "I've been threatened. I've been jumped. I've been beaten." For the sake of keeping his identity safe, we will refer to him as John. John says experiencing the crime is just the beginning. "Most of the time, the crime gets reported, but after the police report you don't hear anything about it."
But, crime victims in Webb County, and other places, have an option. It's called the Victim Information and Notification Everyday program -- VINE, for short. For those who sign up for the VINE program, they will receive updates on the offender's current court dates, whether they've been released, transferred from jail, or even if they escape. The Webb County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Brenda Medina says victims will never be left in the dark. "This is offered 24 hours a day, 365 days, so all year. They're able to stay up-to-date on what exactly is happening with that offender." As an added measure, the program is confidential. Medina adds, "The offender will not know that the victim signed up for this program."
Because, at the end of the day, crime victims like John say they want to feel safe. "I would feel more at peace knowing that if I go to the store I'm not going to bump into somebody that I've bumped heads with before."
Aside from the VINE program, the sheriff's department also takes an extra step to ensure domestic violence victims' safety. When the offender is released an employee with the Webb County Jail will call the victim to notify them of their release.
All you need to do to sign up is call their toll free number (877) 894-8463 or visit www.vinelink.com and register. After you register, you can choose to receive phone or email notifications.