RALEIGH: December 16, 2008 - When the status of a registered sex offender changes, the victim now has one more layer of protection thanks to an updated telephone notification service operated around the clock by NC SAVAN, the Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification program.
In addition to getting an automated phone call or e-mail when a sex offender is scheduled for court or has a change in custody, now the victim is notified by phone when changes occur in the status of a specific registered sex offender within the NC Sex Offender Registry. For example, a victim can receive a notification when any registered sex offender moves within a specified zip code.
“While the state Dept. of Justice offers e-mail notifications through its sex offender registry program, these expanded telephone notifications are an important piece in safeguarding victims of sexual assault and our children,” said Governor’s Crime Commission Chairman Linda Hayes. “Many North Carolinians don’t have access to computers.”
The N.C. sheriffs, the N.C. Department of Correction and the N.C. Court System’s district attorneys provide offender custody status and court case events to NC SAVAN.
Phone notification in English or Spanish is accessible through www.ncsavan.org or through a toll-free number, 1-877-NCSAVAN, which is supported by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than 220,000 people have registered for this service since mid October.
Last year, 1.7 million searches were conducted using the NC SAVAN website or through the automated phone center.
During a four-year period, the NC SAVAN program provided 2.8 million automated phone or e-mail notifications to registered individuals.
The NC SAVAN program started in North Carolina in 1998 following the passage of the NC Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Of the 43 states with a similar program, North Carolina was one of the first to offer statewide automated information and notification services.
“For the past ten years, the Governor’s Crime Commission has ensured that victims of crime get the help they need to transcend their trauma and move forward with their lives,” said Hayes. “Supporting the NC SAVAN program is a critical piece in achieving our mission to serve victims, victim service providers and criminal justice partners.”
The Governor’s Crime Commission administers federal Victims of Crime Act funding (VOCA) to the NC SAVAN program. The latest enhancement to NC SAVAN was paid for through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
“This new tool gives North Carolinians another way to learn when an offender moves nearby so that families can plan for their safety,” said Attorney General Roy Cooper, who’s agency operates the NC Sex Offender Registry based on information provided by local sheriffs.
People can also continue to visit the Sex Offender Registry web site, available at www.ncdoj.gov, to search for convicted sex offenders in their community, view maps and aerial photographs that show offenders’ home addresses, and sign up to get e-mail alerts about offenders in their area.
“We celebrate these ten years of victims and citizens having access to information and notification,” Hayes said. “NC SAVAN and the Registry are valuable services to our community and this new service is yet another stepping stone toward the inclusion of victims and citizens along a timeline that builds upon a progressive criminal justice system.”
Source: North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
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