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8,000 Oregon Victims Incorrectly Alerted of Prisoner Releases

Approximately 8,000 Oregon crime victims were recently alarmed when they were erroneously alerted that the prisoners who committed crimes against them would be released.

Since 2001, the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) has been one of 47 states that contracts with Appriss to notify crime victims of transfers, escapes, and releases of the state's approximately 14,000 prisoners. Victims may register for notification through a system called Victim Information Notification Everyday, or VINE.

On March 20, 2015, erroneous VINE notices went out to 8,000 Oregon victims and their families notifying them that the prisoner they asked to be notified about would be released. This included erroneous notification that such high profile prisoners as Ward Weaver, who is serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for sexually assaulting and killing two school girls, had been discharged.

"We take services to victims very seriously, and apologize for the incorrect notifications," said Elizabeth Craig, an ODOC spokeswoman. "We are working to understand what caused the glitch to ensure this does not happen again."

Ultimately, ODOC and Appriss determined that the "glitch" occurred while the state was updating its large prisoner database, which contains about 15,000 files, according to ODOC spokeswoman Betty Bernt. Appriss confirmed that the problem came from the large update.

Appriss spokeswoman Karen Keck said the problem was confined to Oregon.

Appriss has twice alerted those who received erroneous notifications to reassure them that the prisoners would not actually be released, said Bernt.

Sources: Oregonian/OregonLive, The Associated Press

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