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Legislation for Victim Notification Not Holding Water

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Victims will be able to track activities of criminals with network system.
RALEIGH — In its last, session the North CarolinaLegislature passed the Victims' Rights Law, but so far there's nothing inplace to make it work. Now, the Governor's Crime Commission is trying tocreate a statewide computer network to notify victims.

Victims want to know when their attackers are in court, and most of allwhen they are released from jail. This is especially relevant indomestic violence cases where offenders often seek revenge on victims.Many people believe a statewide automated victim notification system isthe way to save lives.

When Janice Fletcher's brother was murdered almost four years ago.She says there was no victim notification program in place at that time.

Fletcher says her brother's killer is up for parole in 2004, and shewants to know when he is released.

Wilson County was the first county in the state to undertake anautomated victim notification system. Information about offenders isupdated every ten minutes. Victims who register with the program arecalled by the computer and told the status of their cases.

Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay says he had expected thousands ofpeople to take advantage of the program, but in a year and a half only 119people have used it.

Gay says he believes lack of awareness about registering hascontributed to that, but says he believes in the program, especially indomestic violence cases.

Barry Bryant of the governor's crime commission says victim's should bemade aware of criminals' activities.

Gay says the system can be a great asset once people know it exists.

Photographer:Mark Copeland

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