Automated system helps victims of violent crimes gain more information about cases

By Dave Gong

Victims of violent crimes have an automated avenue to find information about specific criminal cases through the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification system.

Maureen A. Josh, DeKalb County circuit clerk, said the victim notification system is referred to as VINElink and started in 2002. VINElink is a way for victims to look up information about a case and the location and status of a defendant, she said.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said the information VINElink provides relates to status changes for defendants, such as if they bond out of jail and are transferred or released.

According to a press release, Josh recently attended a Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Training (SAVIN) and Techincal Assistance Workshop in Alexandria, Va.

According to the release, Josh was one of two people chosen to represent Illinois at the conference. Mike Bastien, the statewide automated victim notification coordinator, also attended the training.

Josh said this was her first year attending the national conference, where she spoke about the progress Illinois made with the automated system.

“Illinois has been very successful,” Josh said. “Illinois stands out as a leader in the importance and administration of the Vine Program.”

Victims can also register for automated updates from VINElink.

“It gives victims another tool to protect themselves,” Josh said. “When someone is a victim of a crime, they have the right and the opportunity to stay informed.”

Josh said DeKalb County was the first county to fully incorporate all of the agencies involved with the victim notification system. The agencies are the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, the circuit court and the state’s attorney’s office.

Scott said the system automatically links to booking information at the DeKalb County Jail, 150 N. Main St. in Sycamore. Officers responding to crimes such as those relating to domestic violence provide victims with information on how to register with the statewide VINElink system, Scott said.

“It’s certainly a much improved system over the old way of officers making phone calls,” he said. “It’s a much better system – more reliable.”

Representatives from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney Office were not available for comment as of press time.