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Alert system designed to assist crime victims not operating properly

Posted at 5:27 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 19:17:13-04

CORPUS CHRISTI – An alert system that affects victims of all crime has been offline for months.

“This is another thing that causes victims not to want to participate in the system. If they can’t trust the system to protect the​m, they don’t want to participate in it,” Erica Matlock of the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office said.

Nueces County contracts with a database called VINELink. It alerts victims when their offender is scheduled to be released from jail through calls, text messages, and emails.

Representatives at the District Attorney’s office said being cut off from this information is especially traumatizing for victims of domestic violence.

“Sometimes we have victims who don’t know the person is getting out of jail, so they’re sound asleep at 2 a.m., somebody is knocking on their door, and it’s the offender,” Shirley Esparza said.

Issuing Emergency Protective Orders has also become difficult. Daily calls to the Nueces County Jail have become necessary to find out if the person related to that order is still in custody.

VINELink representatives said the problem is not on their end. They said Nueces County is undergoing software maintenance.

Erica Matlock, special prosecutor for the newly implemented Domestic Violence Court, said multiple agencies are working together to pinpoint the root of the problem.

“I don’t know if it’s funding or the software. All I know is that we’re working with Nueces County IT as well as jail staff,” Matlock said.

The cause of the software issue has yet to be determined as of Friday afternoon, and there is no timeline for when the system will be operating normally.

Shirley Esparza with the District Attorney’s office said this is not a payment issue. She said the county still has an active contract with the VINELink database.