An automated system designed to notify crime victims when an offender has a change in custody status has been implemented in more than half of the counties across the state — but not Harvey County.
“Right now, we are not involved,” said Sheriff Chad Gay.
Gay received about 90 minutes of training during a “Sheriff's School” he attended after being elected. In addition, several detention center deputies have received training on the system which has not yet been implemented.
“It sounds like once it is up and running, it is not difficult to maintain,” Gay said.
The Kansas VINE system is currently for tracking offenders housed in county jails.
The system allows victims of crime to use the telephone or internet to search for information regarding the custody status of their offender in a county jail, and to register to receive notification when the offender’s custody status changes, — like when the offender is released from jail. Types of offender information available are name, offender number, current offender custody status, location of the offender and scheduled release date if available.
In the Harvey County area implementation has been spotty. Reno, Butler and Marion County are not in the database, according to a list of available searches at vinelink.com. McPherson and Sedgwick Counties are a part of the system.
“The implementation process requires engagement and participation from the sheriff's office or the jail, that is where it would start,” said Jennifer Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Kansas Attorney General's office. “We are doing this over a time period, and over next year they will come on board. There is some technical work that is required on the agency side.”
County-by-county implementation of the Kansas Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system began in March 2016.
“Kansas VINE is an important source of information for victims of crime,” said Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “Having it available in more than half of Kansas counties is significant progress, and I look forward to the day when it will be available for crime victims statewide.”
Although operation of the state prison system is centralized through the Department of Corrections, the county jails are separately operated by individual counties. Currently, 59 counties have been activated. Over the next year, remaining counties across Kansas are expected to begin participating in the system.
Prior to the creation of the system, there was no central source of information available to crime victims about offenders held in county jails.
In the case of Harvey County, a list of inmates is available online that is updated daily. It allows to viewers to see a mug shot and see why the person is being detained in the jail.
VINE is a free and anonymous service provided through of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, the Kansas Department of Labor, and the Kansas Sheriffs Association.
A series of regional trainings are scheduled for the VINE system will be August 15 through 17th in Olathe, Emporia and Hutchinson. During those events topics covered will include the history of VINE, how Kansas VINE works and how to register for automated notifications. The trainings are open to the public.