Woodward, Okla. —
The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office is working to increase awareness of an automated service that allows victims to track the status of an offender or a protective order over the phone or online.
The name of the service is OK VINE, which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday.
On March 14, OK VINE Program Managers Toni Scheihing and Fara Brown met with local representatives from the District Attorney's office, Woodward Police Department, DHS, and Legal Aid to remind them about this valuable service.
According to Scheihing, the program has been aiding victims in Oklahoma since 2006.
"We believe that it's a core victim's right to have notification and information about their offenders and we feel this is a really good program that does both," Scheihing said.
She explained how the system works to keep crime victims aware of where offenders are located.
"Once an offender is booked into a jail or wherever they're being held, they become accessible for victims or concerned citizens to register against," she said. "This means they'll receive either a phone call, text, or email any time the custody status changes, such as if they're going to court or being released or transfered, if they're getting out to work, if they're going on probation or parole, or even in the instance of their death or escape. They'll receive notification in any instance that causes a custody status change."
Scheihing explained that there are 2 ways of signing up for the service.
"One way is they can call the 1-877-OK4-VINE (1-877-654-8463) and go through an automated system, or they request an operator and the operator can help them sign up. All the options come in English or Spanish, but if someone doesn't speak English or Spanish, they have an interpreter service to help them," she said.
The second way that people can register is by visiting vinelink.com, which will walk them through the whole process and allow them to sign up online, she said.
Scheihing explained that as long as the offender is in custody or incarcerated, all one needs to register to receive status updates on them is part of the offender's name.
"As long as they have first three letters of the last name and the first letter of their first name they can pull up anyone who applies, so they can register even if they don't know how to spell it," she said.
Scheihing explained a little more about who the program is for and why its so important.
"We focus on domestic violence and sexual assault, and it's crucial for them to know in case they get out of jail and come back," she said. "It can also be for someone who was burglarized; the victim of DUI car accident; it could be the family member of a victim or an offender; or even a concerned citizen whose worried about them being released back into their neighborhood."
Scheihing explained that the program does more than provide information, it provides victims with a sense of security.
"We feel its important for victims because it gives them the ability to have information come to them rather than them having to search it out themselves, said Scheihing. "Letting them know they'll get a notification on the status of the offender gives them peace of mind."