MONTGOMERY – On Wednesday, state officials and crime victim advocates unveiled a new Alabama Victim Notification System website.

The site allows crime victims in Alabama and other interested parties to receive notifications regarding inmates’ parole hearings and other pending releases from prison.

During the first couple weeks of a soft launch in March, nearly 2,000 Alabamians utilized the new VNS and successfully registered for notices related to an inmate’s upcoming parole hearing or other change in status/custody.

Darlene Hutchinson Biehl, an Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commissioner, said, “The Victim Notification System can provide peace of mind to survivors of violence and families of victims, especially since they can control their own information and determine how to receive these notices.”

“They can update the info whenever necessary and encourage other family and friends to register, too. This tool can be a valuable safety net, as well. It’s so important that crime victims aren’t overlooked in the criminal justice system and that we’re taking care of their needs as they heal from the trauma they’ve experienced. I’m sincerely grateful to the state agencies, public officials and advocates who’ve been playing an important role in the system’s development,” Biehl said. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said, “The trauma experienced by victims of crimes and their families is one that often lasts a lifetime. Under Alabama law, crime victims have protected rights, including the right to receive updates on the incarceration status of their offenders.”

“The new Victim Notification System ensures that those who are registered receive timely notice when an inmate is moved, released, or being considered for parole. The system also allows victims to keep their contact information up-to-date so that they don’t miss important updates. Our new Victim Notification System will deliver a much-needed service to victims and their families as they navigate the criminal justice system,” Marshall added. 

Donna Holman Bush, an Elmore County resident whose brother was murdered in 2003, said at a press conference on Wednesday she’d already signed up on the site to get notifications.

“When it comes time for parole hearings, yes, it’s a time of anxiety as soon as we get the notice. We start getting very anxious about it. We’re excited to see this. It was very easy to do,” Bush said. 

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