TOPEKA: New Kansas Advisory Board Will Guide Administration of Victim Notification System
The Kansas VINE Advisory Board held its first meeting Wednesday via videoconference. Schmidt established the board earlier this year, after the Legislature passed a bill in 2019 requiring the attorney general to appoint a Kansas VINE coordinator, and allowing for the appointment of an advisory board. VINE is an automated victim notification system that is free, confidential and voluntary for victims of crime, criminal justice professionals, and the public. Kansas VINE search and notification is specific to adult offenders housed in county jails. This does not include Kansas Department of Corrections inmates housed in state prison facilities, federal prisons or private facilities.
Schmidt said implementation of VINE is nearly complete after five years of effort to bring the notification system to 96 of the 97 Kansas counties that operate jails. The project has been a collaboration among the Office of Attorney General, Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Appriss Insights. VINE is now active in 95 county jails, and implementation in a 96th is planned.
Kansas VINE is a valuable resource for victims of crime. Not only does Kansas VINE provide access to information about an offender’s custody in a county jail facility, it also includes the option for that individual to register to receive notifications when that offender’s custody status changes. Kansas VINE sends a victim “real time” notifications for custody status changes such as when an offender is released from custody, transferred to another facility or rearrested. In 2019, Kansas VINE delivered more than 35,500 notifications to VINE users.
“This partnership and infrastructure is important as we do all we can to inform and assist crime victims,” Schmidt said. “I am confident the VINE Advisory Board will keep the project focused on victims and will be responsive to their needs and concerns.”
The Kansas VINE Advisory Board will explore avenues to increase awareness of Kansas VINE across the state and methods to strengthen VINE’s existing support as a valuable resource for victims.
Schmidt has appointed the following members to serve on the board:
- Sheriff Sandy Horton (Retired), Executive Director, Kansas Sheriff’s Association
- Jennifer Hecker, Executive Director, Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Inc.
- Detective Melissa Burns, DV/Sex Crimes, Investigations Division, Wichita Police Department
- Erin Kelley, Senior Manager, Medicaid, Kansas Department of Health and Environment
- Joan Proctor, VINE Coordinator, Victim Services Division, Office of the Attorney General
- Can also be viewed on USA News Today