City of New York Department of Correction

New York City VINE Program

Victim Information & Notification Everyday
Every Victim has the Right to Know...
• Inmate Release Notification  • Inmate Custody Information
(888) 846-3469

Important VINE Facts

The City of New York has established a free 24-hour hotline service that provides information about the custody status of caller-specified inmates in New York City Department of Correction jails and initiates automated notifications to registered callers about the release of those inmates. VINE was created to give crime victims easier access to important custody information about whether a particular inmate is still incarcerated.

VINE monitors only New York City Department of Correction (DOC) inmates, not those held in police lockups, federal detention facilities, state prisons, or juvenile detention centers. Defendants 16 years and older are committed by courts to DOC custody at arraignment, if unable to make bail or if remanded without opportunity for bail.

Forty-eight hours or more may elapse between the time of arrest and when a defendant is housed by DOC and when that data is entered into the Department's Inmate Information System (IIS).

Be aware that DOC has no information on defendants who have been released after being given Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs) by the police, or released on bail or without bail (ROR) by the arraignment court. If VINE cannot confirm that the defendant is in DOC custody, prudence dictates that the caller assume the defendant is not incarcerated.

Who Should Use VINE?

VINE should be used by

  • Anyone who has been the victim of a crime in which one or more defendants have been arrested, the defendants have been or may be incarcerated by the arraignment court pending the outcome of the case the case is still pending or the case resulted in a defendant serving a jail sentence of a year or less.
  • Crime victims' family members and friends.
  • Crime victim advocates, counselors, and service providers.

*Note: Sentences of incarceration for more than one year are served in prisons (felony time) operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

What Does VINE Do?

VINE does the following for the caller:

  • Confirms if an inmate is in custody.
  • Allows the caller to register to receive an automated telephone alert if the inmate is released or transferred from DOC custody.
  • Initiates the telephone notification to the registered caller that the inmate has been released or transferred from DOC custody.

How Do I Use Vine?

Before calling the first time:

  • Make up a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) and write it down where you can get at it when you need it.
  • Know ahead of time which phone number you want to use to receive inmate custody release notification calls.
  • Obtain from the police and/or prosecutors working with you on the case sufficient defendant identification information for the VINE system to use in checking on the individual's custody status. The police on the case would ordinarily have the defendant's first and last name, date of birth, and date of arrest. The prosecutors on the case will likely also have the New York State Identification Number (NYSID).

The Identifiers VINE Uses Are:

The defendant's New York State Identification Number that is assigned as a result of a fingerprint search and classification process that takes place after arrest and before arraignment. The NYSID alone is sufficient for VINE to check on the individual's custody status. If the NYSID is unavailable, use at least three of the following other defendant identifiers:

  • First name.
  • Last name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Date of arrest.

Use a touch-tone phone in order to enter the NYSID number or, if that is unavailable, other defendant identifiers, when prompted by the automated instructions. Enter (888) VINE-4-NY. In numbers, that is (888) 846-3469. Listen carefully to the instructions. Select hearing them in English or Spanish. If VINE confirms that the individual is in DOC custody, the caller is given the option of registering to receive automated phone notification if that inmate is released or transferred from DOC custody. After selecting that option, enter your PIN and custody release notification phone number.

Will It Keep Trying?

Once VINE receives information that an inmate's custody status has changed, it will call all persons registered to receive notification regarding that individual. Receipt of notification can be confirmed only by the recipient giving the registered Personal Identification Number (PIN). Unless PIN-confirmed, VINE will continue attempting to complete the telephone notification at regular intervals for up to four (4) days.

Answers to Some Phone Questions

  • Yes, if VINE encounters busy signals, it will call back, at regular intervals over a four-day span.
  • Yes, VINE will leave a message on an answering machine. But without a PIN acknowledgment, the calls and messages will continue for four days.
  • No, rotary/pulse phones cannot be used with VINE for anything except receiving notification calls. Even with these callbacks, such phones can't confirm receipt of the call. That's because they can't transmit the PIN code. So VINE will keep calling that rotary/pulse phone periodically for four days with the same message no matter how many times the notice is repeated.
  • Yes, the VINE Call Center's own out-of-state number will be displayed if you have Caller ID or Call Blocking features on your notification phone.
  • Yes, VINE will call you at more than one phone number to give custody release notification but each phone must be registered with a PIN. You may use the same PIN for each notification phone you register with VINE.
  • Yes, entering PIN acknowledgment of receipt of the custody release notification is the only way to stop VINE attempting to ring you on that phone for four days, short of disconnecting the phone. The PIN-confirmation requirement is an extra safeguard that the message gets through to you, not lost or forgotten by someone else.

Will It Call Me at Work?

Don't register a phone number that reaches a switchboard or some other person answering unless prior arrangements have been made with that answering person to enter your correct PIN. Be aware VINE cannot place calls to phones that require entering additional extension numbers. Only direct dial numbers will work. VINE is not equipped to enter additional extension numbers to access a phone.

Is It Possible I Might Not be Notified of an Inmate's Release?

The VINE National Call Center begins such notification dialings shortly after the release has been entered into the Inmate Information System (IIS) database maintained by the New York City Department of Correction. The out-of-state VINE center is connected to DOC's IIS via sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology that checks changes in the database approximately every quarter hour, 24 hours a day, every day, 365 days a year, accordingly confirming incarcerations and notifying on releases. The calls go out day and night, weekday and weekends.

Although VINE is a heavy-duty, industrial-strength, highly reliable system, it - like any human service - can malfunction. It is not a substitute for prudent precautions for your personal safety worked out in advance with police, prosecutors, support groups, professional counselors, service providers, and family members.

VINE has been expanded to include the New York State Department of Correctional Services as well as some municipalities. For information please call.

For further information about VINE, contact Winette Saunders-Halyard at (718) 546-0447.

Joseph Ponte
Joseph Ponte
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