Using high tech to help crime victims
It's a service already provided in all 50 states and soon could be available here at home. The Attorney General's Office is looking to bring Guam into the 21st Century with technology that would give victims 24/7 access to information on their assailants.
You can do everything on your phone - and soon, if you are a victim of any type of crime, could call in and get information on your perpetrator. "They find out when the next hearing is, when was the last hearing. Is the defendant released? What are the release conditions?" said Guam AG Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson. And since her takeover as attorney general, she says she's learned of VINE.
Short for Victim Information and Notification Everyday, her hope is to adapt a similar system for Guam. She explained, "A victim is given a password. And the victim calls in to a 1-866 number or a 1-877 number. And keys in their password and it automatically links in to the court system with all the information about their particular case." Although the AG praises the work of the island's victim advocates, there are only nine for the up to 2,000 criminal and misdemeanor cases prosecuted a year. That's over 200 cases per advocate.
"It's DWI, its domestic violence. Burglary, theft, aggravated assault. And with 2,000 cases a year, if you leave it to the human factor and our ability to call everybody, find everybody by the human factor, we're going to make mistakes. We're going to miss some," she admitted.
Although it's unknown how much a system would cost, the AGO is in early talks with the Office of Victims of Crime in Washington, DC. From there, she hopes to request to use federal dollars that could be subgranted to the Judiciary of Guam as they are the repository for all case information. "As a judge for 14 years, it's always been a priority for me in criminal cases, and protective order cases and domestic violence of having an assurance that the victim has been notified particularly when it comes to release conditions or a violation from a defendant on probation," said Barrett-Anderson.