It's a new statewide program called V.I.N.E., or Victim Information and Notification Everyday. It's a database that lists all people jailed in Texas. The first of its kind to give victims the power to keep track of those who've committed crimes against them or their loves ones.
"Three months ago my grandfather was killed and we've been having a hard time keeping track of the suspect," says Brittany Cappadonna who lost her grandfather to a crime. On New Year's night of this year, 29-year-old Barry Lee Thoms allegedly shot and killed Brittany Cappadonna's grandfather. "He was shot in the head," says Cappadonna. Thoms is charged with murder, awaiting trial in the Lubbock County Jail.
Losing her grandfather has been an emotionally and physically draining experience for Brittany. And getting justice for the man who took his life is every bit as painful. "It's important to me and my family. They don't live here in Lubbock and it's just me here so I've been keeping track of the case for my family," says Cappadonna.
The new V.I.N.E. hotline gives crime victims information and updates on any inmate jailed in the state of Texas. "This way the victim can actually pick up the phone and call daily if they'd like or before they go to sleep just to have that peace of mind when they're going to sleep to know that individual is still in jail," says Lubbock County Sheriff, David Guitierrez.
By giving the person's name to an operator, a victim can find out the status of any prisoner. In the past obtaining this information was a much more complicated process and could take days. Now, getting the information and peace of mind is as easy as picking up the phone. "We just want to be updated on when his hearings are so that my family can attend and just follow the case and it's easy through this program," says Cappadonna.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says this new program gives crime victims rights that are have been overlooked in the past. "I'm here to say that crime victims have rights too. It's the right of a crime victim to know when their attacker is released from jail. It's the right of a crime victim to know when the attacker is going to court. It's information that empowers crime victims to take control of their lives."
For more information on the vine program, call toll free 1-877-TX4-VINE. Free information is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.