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The New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc. hosted the Fourth Annual New York Statewide Conference on VINE on April 23, 2010 at the Holiday Inn Wolf Road, Albany, NY.
Sheriff Jim Campbell of Albany County welcomed the one hundred and twenty registrants from over
55 not-for-profit and government agencies representing Law Enforcement, Corrections, Probation, Parole, Criminal Justice, District Attorney’s Offices, Victim Advocacy and Domestic Violence service agencies throughout
the State of New York.
Sheriff Campbell highlighted the number of crime victims who have been helped using VINE in Albany County during the past year but he also questioned what else could be done to be of further assistance to them.
Sheriff Ron Spike of Yates County and Chairman of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc. provided an overview of today’s program. He cited the need for effective collaboration between agencies in order to meet the challenges of providing relevant services to crime victims.
His inspiration for the conference was to create a venue where caring professionals and allied agencies could come together and share information, identify emerging needs and arrive at practical solutions that would better serve crime victims.
He recently succeeded in adding a crime victim specialist to the staff of the Yates County Sheriff’s Office and a positive return was realized almost immediately. He noted that the VINE Program has been a major step forward and reminded all that our energy, collaboration and creativity must be ever present in order to succeed in helping victims of crime.
A Crime Victims’ Perspective on VINE
The opening session, presented by crime victim, Karen Carroll, RN SANE-A NY-SAFE, Associate Director Bronx SART, was a moving portrayal about her strength and courage in enduring trauma, fear, abuse, misplaced trust, death threats, and a savage rape during her marriage.
She provided an amazing portrait of a journey by a crime victim who is a survivor and now is giving back to the community and other crime victims. She put a face on a victim’s devastating experience. She calmly and factually articulated a series of unanticipated events that confronted her, each with their own challenge, as she sought to survive and receive the necessary help she needed.
Her journey was not easy but she described how the VINE program helped her regain some control and how she did not panic when she received the notification call that her offender was being released from prison.
Her presentation set the tone for the day. It was a story of unbelievable strength. It was well done and received many accolades from the audience for her willingness to share her experience.
Probation / Crime Victims
Robert Maccarone, Director of the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives detailed how New York’s County Probation Departments are providing outreach and assistance to crime victims.
He outlined a model policy for Probation which seeks to provide care services, help victims with compensation, offer victim/offender mediation, serve on victim impact panels, collect restitution and provide relevant information and notification regarding offender status and disposition.
As State Director, Bob has brought new energy and leadership to the vital role that Probation now undertakes in aiding victims of crime in the State of New York.
APPRISS Inc. Update
Mike Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of APPRISS, Inc., described how he learned about the tragic and shocking death of Mary Byron who was murdered in 1993 on her 21st birthday in Louisville, Kentucky.
As a parent, he couldn’t fathom loosing a child so young. He was deeply moved and determined to do something so that such a loss of life would not befall another family again.
He co-founded the VINE Program - Victim Information & Notification Everyday. He joined with Mary’s parents, John and Pat Byron and set in motion a nationwide effort to see that the VINE Program was available to crime victims throughout the country.
Currently 80-85% of incarcerated inmates are in a correctional facility that has the VINE Program. Mike described not only the growth in the VINE Service but also enumerated many of the improvements that have been made over the years.
Tim Bingham, APPRISS, Inc., Product Manager, concluded the presentation by elaborating on these enhancements and indentifying new approaches that are underway at APPRISS, Inc. to further assist victims of crime.
Janet Koupash, Director , Office of Crime Victims, New York State Department of Correctional Services, Erica Staples, Senior Account Manager, APPRISS, Inc.,and Chuck Gallo, Project Director, New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc., provided 45 minutes of valuable information on how the VINE Program works, how it serves victims of crime but also allied criminal justice and victim advocates.
A live demonstration helped the audience learn about the website, www.vinelink.com and how to navigate the VINE lookup and registration service. A status report was provided on the Institute’s Inmate Photo Enhancement Project as well as new technical tools that could be used by crime victims searching for inmates in a County look up system. The new feature would enable one to automatically be transferred to APPRISS, Inc. for more information and the opportunity to register for a notification email or phone call.
Responding to Crime Victims
Frank Fowler, Chief of the Syracuse Police Department was recently appointed to lead this agency. As a career police officer he shared his personal story and experience in responding to crime, their victims and their families.
For too long he witnessed the mayhem that multiple shootings create – death to the innocent, the confusion of victims’ families seeking help in the aftermath, their anger over the loss of a loved one and the surge of families to the Hospital Emergency Room looking for loved ones while seeking answers as to what happened.
He saw a need but what could he do to alleviate such pain? He created “Volunteer Trauma Teams” in the Syracuse Police Department that would try to help loved ones, victims and their families deal with the crisis at hand. His investigative staff would still respond to a crime scene in order to conduct their investigation but now they would be able to rely on volunteer trauma teams, trained by the Red Cross, to render assistance to Victims of Crime and their family.
A candid question and answer session followed during which time Chief Fowler further described the benefits of this innovative approach by Law Enforcement in the Syracuse community.
Sean Byrne, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, a career professional, who has held many distinguished positions/offered his perspective on crime and crime victim issues in the State of New York.
The good news is that there has been a remarkable decrease in the number of felony crimes committed during the past 10-15 years with over 600,000 less crimes being reported and recorded each year.
Sean outlined a series of initiatives, current and future, that have helped in this reduction and will continue to do so. He stressed the important role DNA collection has provided in reducing crimes, clearing the innocent and assisting crime victims. He convincingly outlined the need to expand the current statutes governing which crimes should be eligible that currently are not, for DNA samples.
Expanding the requirement for the additional crimes would lead to further crime reduction and fewer crime victims, because offenders would then be subject to the accountability and identification of the DNA process. Sean acknowledged that the inclusion of more crimes is a formidable task but one that he will continue to pursue.
Crime Victim Rights
Chairwoman Tina Stanford of the New York State Crime Victims Board highlighted this years’ 2010 National Crime Victim Rights’ Week theme, “Crime Victims’ Rights. Fairness. Dignity. Respect” in her opening remarks.
As a former prosecutor, she recounted the pain and trauma of crime victims who wrestled with a decision on how best to proceed with their case in court.
This is not an easy task for crime victims who many times are assailed that they too contributed to their own dilemma.
Tina outlined the many services offered by the New York State Crime Victims Board to aid crime victims but noted the applicants for assistance does not compare to the number of crimes committed each year. She offered her vision for the future. She clearly, softly and concisely demonstrated her leadership and commitment to address the continuing needs of crime victims in the State of New York.
A View from the Emergency Room
Dr. Chame Blackburn, Assistant Profession of Emergency Medicine, Albany Medical College, returned to this year’s conference and provided an update on what is transpiring in the medical community to better assist crime victims.
Dr. Blackburn once again highlighted the need for more training of physician and allied professionals who serve in the emergency department. She elaborated on a number of positive steps that she has taken in the past year to improve their ability to manage, not only the injury but the accompanied trauma and psychological stress.
She identified a number of new programs and websites that would shed more information of what measures are being taken by other medical professionals to respond to crime victims.
Assessing a victim injuries and needs in conjunction with allied services is key to improving the overall medical setting in which crime victims are treated.
Protection Orders, A work in Progress
Johanna Sullivan, Attorney for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, reviewed the current status of protection orders in Criminal and Family Courts in the State of New York.
Chuck Gallo, Project Director, recounted the efforts by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc. to seek funds in order to provide an immediate notification service to the petitioner once the order is served on the respondent by a law Enforcement Officer.
Johanna and Chuck pointed out the complexities that have existed in bringing the key players, with integrated technology and appropriate information together to make such an outcome a reality.
There was a lively question and answer session which sought to learn how such a new service would help and when if it would become a reality. There was a strong and clear commitment to improve the safety of petitioners seeking help.
Johanna and Chuck outlined what they envisioned as the next steps with time frames, while at the same time, recognizing the current limitations of funding to bring this initiative home. The audience enthusiastically endorsed this effort and volunteered to be of assistance when and where they could.
Thomas J. Goldrick, Chairman of the New York Sheriffs’ Victim Advisory Board and Retired Sheriff from Rockland County, has guided the establishment and continuance of the VINE Program in 60 County Correctional Facilities since its inception in September 1999. He has been a visionary on how best to extend the reach of the VINE Program by Law Enforcement as they touch the lives of Crime Victims. Today, he offered his thoughts for the future and extended a warm welcome to Mr. Michael Davis as he introduced Mr. Davis, the co-founder and CEO of APPRISS, Inc., as the next presenter.
The New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute, Inc. extends its gratitude to Chairman Thomas J. Goldrick and members, Donald Barrett and Dr. Nicholas Troisi of the New York Sheriffs’ Victim Advisory Board for their valued assistance in designing this conference and the ongoing help they provide in guiding the future of the VINE Program in the State of New York.
Thank you to our dedicated and loyal sponsors.
Your support helped make this important event a great success.