Stakeholder’s Meeting - Victim Notification Policy Report

On June 5, 2009, the Board of Corrections Victim Services Focus Group held a stakeholders meeting to address the need for

The revised drafts reflect the report outs from the meeting.

Currently the revisions are being reviewed by the Victim Services focus group and will be presented to the Board of Corrections in July.


Positives

  • Consistency
  • Comprehensive
  • Protection
  • Clearly identifies the procedure
  • Definition of victims
  • Designated staff to do the notification
  • Policy intent is inclusive
  • Statutory conditions
  • Notification of release form is clear
  • Clearly indicates the information that is allow to be released.
  • Emergency notification is not limited to specific events.
  • It notifies victims of supervised home confinement

Delta - Needs Improvement

  • Some Procedures
  • DOC vs. Riverview – informing of location
  • Add to notification “Certified Mail” notice
  • Notification is allowed to leave messages or give to a 3 rd party.
  • Changes in discharge dates
  • Evaluation criteria
  • The process of finding victims who have moved.
  • Should include the LE Agency in geographic area.
  • Victim information to follow the prisoner when transferred.
  • Clarify – it should include Class D crimes
  • Time to notify if the offender bails or gets time served.
  • Mental health issues.
  • No Fail Safe to protect the victim.
  • Verification Process – it seems to be missing and needs to be defined and provided to victims and communication service providers.
  • Definitions
  • Policy
  • Procedures/Protocols
  • Verification/Accountability
  • Frequently asked questions and release dates
  • Victims updating their information
  • Add Victim Svc. Agency as avenue for request.
  • Automatic registry of victims rather than they requesting notification.
  • The Notification Form seems to be asking for too much information.
  • Human Trafficking covered for notification.
  • VI - 6 VWA must notify victim

Questions

Why do victims who choose to visit the offender give up their rights to do so if they fill out a request of notification? (unless prohibited)
This is on the request form submitted by the prosecutors office, the purpose is for safety of other visitors and staff
What about Pre-Release Convictions?
Bail after conviction but prior to sentencing, notification is usually done by the victim witness advocate
What is the definition of “Serious”?
Any offense can be considered serious by the person impacted.
Can DOC harassment policy extend to the jails?
The jails could establish a similar policy based on service of a harassment order by a law enforcement officer
What to do about offenders bailed to Victim’s address.
Information should be provided to the bail commissioner and a no contact condition added.
How do victims know they have a right to be notified?
Victim witness advocates provide information to victims regarding post conviction release notification
How are they notified about what the process involves, who to contact, what are the resources?
17-A M.R.S.A. Section 1172 (2) requires the prosecutor to provide victims with a pamphlet which outlines their rights.

Suggested Policy Wording

  • VI Procedure 2:a – not “upon release”, should be “before release”.
  • VI Procedure 2:c – should be worded “before release”.
  • A better definition of what information victims can have about offender i.e. release dates, programs…..

Bail Notification Policy Report

Positives

  • All victims notifications will be documented
  • It allows broader notification then just DV.
  • Good Intent/great advances made.
  • The investigating officer should know how to reach victims.
  • Documentation is good.
  • Good but arbitrary #3.
  • Focus group to include jails is great.
  • DV Form including victim contact info required
  • Consistency
  • Option to notify in appropriate non-DV cases.
  • Documentation required
  • Flagging Files
  • Mandatory transfer of packets

Delta – Needs Improvement

  • There isn’t anything in place for victims that are underground due to an incident and are unable to be contacted by law enforcement.
  • There should be a jail victim advocate who would handle all the information and who the victims would contact if they relocated.
  • Need a process to ensure victims are giving contact information to obtain the information they are seeking.
  • Does not “ensure” notification; it’s up to dispatch or intake to notify LE – it should clearly state who contacts LE. Unclearly written.
  • Have dispatch or intake do the contact instead of LE.
  • Intake (custodial agency) to do Victim Notification, then if no contact advise LE – exclude dispatch.
  • Bail forms from court not readable
  • Breakdown in communication between agencies
  • Standardize the notification form and integrate it into the booking or transport sheet.
  • Confidentiality – making it separate and uniform in all jails.
  • Make information available by website.
  • Include additional crimes requiring notification.
  • Need feedback system – to guarantee VN has occurred
  • Documentation required by all
  • Clarify definition of DV offence – LE should clearly note DV cases.
  • Doesn’t include Alternate contact person and phone number
  • Needs to be a mandatory transfer packet.

Questions

Why aren’t we notifying all victims instead of just DV victims?
Current statute on bail release notification is specific to domestic violence arrests
Under 17-A § 1175… not all hate crimes are felonies, which hate crimes do have victims that would want a notification….. Statute change???
Statute change is something to consider.
How do victims know what the bail conditions are?
The Victim Witness Advocate in the prosecutors office would be able to answer victim’s questions regarding bail conditions.
Who will take the information when the system fails the victims to explore what happened.
At this time, a failure to notify a victim of release on bail should be brought to the attention of the jail administrator and sheriff for follow up. Statute currently requires the arresting law enforcement agency to notify the victim once the agency receives notification of the release from the jail.