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Supporting Effective Automated Victim Notification Programs

Significant attention has been devoted to ensure that crime victims and survivors have opportunities to be safely and actively engaged participants in their cases and in the overall justice process. A victim’s right to notification and information about his or her case has long been considered a “threshold right” from which all other victims’ rights flow, and is articulated in state law, Victims’ Bill of Rights, state constitutions, and federal law. When victims are informed about the status of a criminal case and the custody status of an alleged or convicted offender, it empowers them to more safely participate in justice processes and make decisions related to other critical needs, including protection, support services, restitution, and victim compensation. 

First introduced in the 90s, Automated Victim Notification (AVN) systems serve as a single point of shared services for victims anywhere in a state to learn about the status of an offender or the case against an offender, from the point of arrest, and incarceration, through disposition, release, and community supervision. These notification systems allow victims and survivors to discretely receive information that can help them make informed decisions about their level of participation in the legal process. Effective AVN programs require broad multi-agency support, increased victim safety, compliance with legislative requirements, and minimization of costs associated with keeping registered participants informed throughout the criminal justice process. [Source]

Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Program

Congress established the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) grant program in 2005 to assist states with implementing and enhancing AVN systems. (View a short video PSA). Some activities conducted by SAVIN grantees included the following:

  • Increasing the number of counties/parishes and agencies or facilities connected to the SAVIN system;
  • Providing timely, confidential, and cost-effective notification;
  • Maintaining and enhancing the methods of notification offered by SAVIN systems;
  • Adding alternative languages to their SAVIN systems, when needed and appropriate;
  • Registering new subscribers to the SAVIN system; and
  • Conducting community outreach and public awareness activities. [Source]

Serving the Training and Technical Assistant Needs of SAVIN Administrators

The NCJA SAVIN Resource Center, formerly known as the SAVIN Online Community, was launched in 2011 as part of the Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA) SAVIN Training and Technical Assistance Program, and was a partnership between National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), Justice Solutions and IJIS Institute. This website serves as a conduit for the distribution of SAVIN-related information and materials gathered or developed by the SAVIN Training and Technical Assistance Project Team.

For information about formal training and technical assistance, please contact Tammy Woodhams, NCJA Senior Staff Associate, at twoodhams@ncja.org.