New notification system alerts crime victims and families on inmates parole releases

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Department of Corrections is rolling out a new notification system for crime victims and their families.

The Notification and Assistance for Victim Inclusion (NAAVI) system will notify crime victims and their families about inmates’ parole and release dates. It comes after what some officials said has been a problem with communication from the state department about inmate release information.

”Information is power,” Virginia Department of Corrections victims services director Amber Leake said. “We want them to have as much information as possible.”

Crime victims can register in the online NAAVI system to get automatic texts, emails, calls or letters about an inmate’s release. While the VINE system handles local jail inmates, the NAAVI system gives notifications for inmates at state prisons serving sentences longer than 12 months.

Leake explained the need to provide a service at the state level.

“The way we notify and provide case management to crime victims was a huge service gap,” Leake said. “NAAVI was developed and implemented to fill that service gap.”

The system comes after some Virginia families didn’t get notified when inmates would be released. The executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police explained how the lack of notification was a problem.

“We had a problem before when there were not regular notices from the parole board when someone was coming up for parole,” Dana Schrad said. “We think it’s a terrific improvement in the system overall to really empower victims.”

Schrad explained the NAAVI system helps crime victims and local law enforcement.

“It is an answer to that problem,” Schrad said. “Because by creating this system, we don’t have to be as concerned about the parole board dropping the ball and not contacting victims when an offender is up for parole.”

Virginia state funds and grant funds helped cover the $253,000 start up cost. The annual fee of $78,000 is paid for by the state inmate telephone vendor.

“So essentially the inmates are paying for that annual fee for the system,” Leake said.

The NAAVI system isn’t a replacement for the VINE system. The NAAVI system is meant to compliment the local jail inmate information notification system.

The officials told WDBJ7 both systems are ways to empower crime victims and their families.

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