V.I.N.E. Program tracks released inmates

Oklahoma has a tool to help victims of crimes to stay one step ahead of offenders.  The Victim Information and Notification Everyday, or V.I.N.E. Program, helps people know where an inmate is, if they get transferred, and when they'll be getting out of jail.  It's for any citizen concerned about the status of any incarcerated person.  The Jackson County DA's Office has been using it for over a year now and has had amazing success.

Joshua Diana and Crystal Lewis were enjoying a day at the lake.  But it ended in bloodshed.  They were each shot, Diana in the chest and Lewis in the leg.  The shooter was arrested, but since they all live in a small town, they didn't want to take any chances, which is why they signed up with the VINE Program.

Using this service, people can use either the phone or internet to find out their offender's custody status.  "When an offender is released, that's the time the victim needs to enact their safety plan and take the precautions - know to watch themselves when they go out in public, and to be aware of their surroundings," says Tanya Pogue, Victim Witness Coordinator.

Pogue has enrolled dozens of people in the last year and says it's an easy program to use.  Just log into the website, enter the name of the offender, and type in telephone number or email address for notification.

And, the site is updated every thirty minutes.  "When the computer gets a signal that someone is going to be released, or has escaped, or you know it could be lots of various reasons they leave custody, then that automatically calls that phone number," Pogue says.  And, the exact location of the offender will be recorded.  "I like the fact that they let you know when the situation changes with the person in jail, I mean, that's really helpful," says Diana.

Diana says that just before his shooter posted bail, the system called him right away.  In fact, because he forgot to put in his pin number, it called his phone for the next 24 hours.  Jackson County was one of the first counties in the state to participate and now 55 counties in Oklahoma are part of the VINE Program.  It's been so successful that 1700 people have registered in Jackson County alone.

The remaining 77 Oklahoma counties will be online with VINE later this year as well as all department of correction facilities.