Local News

Legislation for Victim Notification Not Holding Water

Posted December 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— In its last, session the North Carolina Legislature passed the Victims' Rights Law, but so far there's nothing in place to make it work. Now, the Governor's Crime Commission is trying to create a statewide computer network to notify victims.

Victims want to know when their attackers are in court, and most of all when they are released from jail. This is especially relevant in domestic violence cases where offenders often seek revenge on victims. Many people believe a statewide automated victim notification system is the 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 she wants to know when he is released.

Wilson County was the first county in the state to undertake an automated victim notification system. Information about offenders is updated every ten minutes. Victims who register with the program are called by the computer and told the status of their cases.

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

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

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

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

Photographer:Mark Copeland