Crime victims in most of Iowa have a new way to track the custody status of their attacker. The automated system, called Iowa VINE, allows individuals to call a toll free number or check a website and learn exactly where criminals are being held.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the program is funded by a 1.25 million dollar federal grant and ongoing expenses will be paid for through fines paid by offenders. So far, inmates in 23 county jails are in the Iowa VINE system.
Miller says those counties are some of the most populated, "so 58 percent of Iowans are now covered by the program." He’s hoping all 99 counties and all of the prisoners in the state’s correctional facilities will be part of the system by next year.
Iowa Department of Public Safety Director Gene Meyer says a lot of different people might be interested in taking advantage of the program. "It’s not only important for just the victims of crime," Meyer says, "witnesses and people that have testified in court…they can also take advantage of this." The system also allows users to be notified by phone or e-mail when there is a change in status in a criminal’s custody.
Twenty-nine states have similar state-wide notification systems in place. Iowans can register by calling 1-888-7-IAVINE (888-742-8463) or visiting www.vinelink.com .