Alert system lets crime victims know about offenders' release - WSMV Channel 4

Alert system lets crime victims know about offenders' release

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This is National Crime Victims' Rights week, and one program in particular is drawing some attention. Vine is an automated warning system designed to make victims aware when an offender is let out or about to be released from jail.

But just last week, a message from the Vine system went out in connection to the Holly Bobo murder case that caused concern for the wrong reasons.

The alert said murder suspect Zachary Adams had been released from custody, when, in fact, he was not a free man. Rather, he was just moving from jail to the courthouse to face another charge.

Now, some are asking whether the alerts bring peace of mind or undue anxiety.

"There is no added stress in situations like that, no. It is just working on the side of safety and being cautious, letting them know firsthand," said Gary Cordell, director of the Tennessee Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification, or TN SAVIN.

Victims sign up on the Vine alert website to receive emails or calls when there's a status change with their offender. The state's sheriff's association then sends out the national Vine alert codes through its own program, TN SAVIN.

"It's a way that can actually save lives, and it gives peace of mind to these victims also," Cordell said. "It sometimes may be more information than you need, but it gives you that alert."

"It's possible an escape could happen, so I would want to be on high alert when he is being moved around. So I think the question for the people who designed the program should be, for safety, is there another code you can put in there to say no, they are not being released from custody, but they are being moved today," said Verna Wyatt, executive director of the group Tennessee Voices for Victims.

The alerts come with a number for victims to call for more information, and those with questions should make that call.

In the meantime, the group Tennessee Voices for Victims is meeting this weekend with the company that runs the Vine alert system to discuss options for more accuracy in the messages.

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