Allegheny County launches crime victim notification network
A new automated notification system to help victims of crime track the status of an offender housed in the Allegheny County Jail is now in place.
Pennsylvania Statewide Automated Victim Information & Notification, also known as PA SAVIN, allows residents to receive real-time information about the custody status of offenders. Individuals can register to be notified 24 hours a day, seven days a week by telephone or e-mail of an offender's release, transfer or escape from a county or state facility.
“Victims of crime deserve recognition, information and support from the criminal justice system,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. “My office is proud to be part of this collaborative effort to provide victims of crime and their circles of support with this ground breaking notification service and to help complete the PA SAVIN network's availability in the region.”
“PA SAVIN gives residents the ability to track the status of offenders more efficiently and effectively,” said County Executive Dan Onorato. “My administration is proud to be a part of this effort to help crime victims and the broader community feel safer and more secure.”
The Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections houses eight percent of all county-incarcerated inmates in Pennsylvania. Manual notifications have been handled by the Center for Victims of Violence & Crime (CVVC) for the past 12 years through a collaborative effort with the Allegheny County Jail. Each year, the center's notification program provides services to approximately 1,200 victims, witnesses and significant others and issues an average of 500 offender release notifications.
“PA SAVIN will enhance our existing notification processes,” said Stephanie Walsh, executive director of the Center for Victims of Violence & Crime. “With PA SAVIN, we will not only be reaching victims, but also broadening our ability to make notifications to their families, circles of support, and community members.
“We view PA SAVIN as an additional tool that will help us to do our jobs more effectively and allow more time to concentrate on other steps of safety planning – a critical part of our support of victims. CVVC is pleased to play a major role in assisting Allegheny County citizens in utilizing this new system.”
The implementation of PA SAVIN is a joint project of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute (PDAI) and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency (PCCD). The automated system is expected to be available in all 63 Pennsylvania counties that have jails by the end of 2008. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance to launch a statewide notification system.
Residents can call 1-866-9PA-SAVIN for assistance in obtaining offender information or registering for notification. The system is also available online at www.pacrimevictims.state.pa.us. Technical support professionals monitor and maintain the network to ensure high reliability and availability of this free, life-saving service.
The county-based PA SAVIN system complements an existing system operated by the Commonwealth's Office of Victim Advocate that provides notification to crime victims regarding offenders within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Board of Probation & Parole.
PDAI and PCCD have selected Appriss Inc ., a Kentucky-based technology company, to implement the SAVIN service. Appriss launched the first victim notification service in 1994, following the murder of Mary Byron, a 21-year-old shot to death by a violent ex-boyfriend who had been released from jail on rape charges without Byron's knowledge. The victim notification service is currently available in more than 2,000 communities in 41 states.