App makes offender information accessible

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldAugust 2, 2013 

Crime victims and others in Washington state will be able to use a new mobile app to keep up with the status of offenders.

While VINELink, the online version of the Victim Information and Notification Everyday program, has been available since 2007, the new app makes it more accessible on smartphones and tablet computers.

"A lot of people use hand-held devices, so it's been upgraded," Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim said.

The app was developed by Louisville, Ky.-based Appriss Inc. and is available for Apple and Android devices. It allows crime victims to register and anonymously monitor location and custody status for people in Washington prisons as well as participating county and city jails, according to a news release.

The jails in Franklin and Benton counties are involved with the program.

Changes in status will show up when an inmate dies or is transferred or released.

The app is "hands on and immediate," said Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, in the news release.

"Victims, advocates, law enforcement and the public can use the app to quickly and easily register for instant offender movement notifications," Barker said. "It's another piece of a community's safety plan."

The National Victim Notification network uses VINELink statewide in 41 states, according to its website.

Victim notification has changed greatly over the years, Lathim said. It wasn't that long ago that victims would get paper notices.

"Now, it's obviously a lot more timely," he said.

The free app is available by searching "VINEMobile" in Google Play for Android or the Apple App Store.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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