A tool to track offenders
To learn more
The Wisconsin Victim Information & Notification Everyday service started Tuesday in Rock County. The service provides information about the status of criminal defendants online or by telephone. People also can register for notifications if offenders are released or their status changes.
The toll-free phone number is 1-888-WI-4-VINE or 1-888-944-8463.
The Web site is www.vinelink.com.
JANESVILLE Crime victims can be notified when their attacker is released from the Rock County Jail after a new phone and Internet notification system began running Tuesday.
Rock County has joined the Wisconsin Victim Information & Notification Everyday service to provide people with the custody status of criminal defendants.
Crime victims, family members, law enforcement or anyone else impacted by crime can go online or call a toll-free telephone number to learn the status of offenders in Wisconsin jails.
People also can register to receive an automated notification when the offenders are released or their status changes. Notifications can be sent by phone or e-mail.
"It's a wonderful service for victims. It will empower them," said Shelley Sturdevant of the Rock County Victim Assistance Program.
Victims can use the information to protect themselves if a perpetrator is released, possibly preventing future crimes, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.
"It will help address victims' concerns and improve community safety for everyone," Spoden said. "This system will allow crime victims to breathe a little easier."
The system will notify people if offenders are released, transferred, escape or have a court appearance. People can register anonymously, and offenders will not know who is tracking them.
The system communicates with jail and prison booking systems in almost real time to disperse information, said Jo Winston, director of victim services and programs for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
The system is automated, but a live operator also is available.
"If someone bonded out at 11 p.m., those calls would start," she said.
A $1.2 million federal grant given to the state paid for the start-up costs of the service in Rock County.
It will cost counties $5,000 to $47,000 a year to use the system, depending on the county's size, Winston said. The state, however, is trying to secure ongoing grant funding.
"We firmly believe you can't put a price tag on the safety and security of people who live here," Spoden said.
In the past, local jail workers would notify victims of an offender's release if it was requested through the victim assistance program, Sturdevant said.
More than 1,600 jails in 43 states use the system.
About 20 other county jails in Wisconsin are expected to implement the system in the next few months.