U.S. Attorney General Notification:
About Victim Notification Program
Where possible, all victim information and notifications in criminal cases that have been accepted for prosecution from federal investigative agencies are made available (in both English and Spanish) by means of the Department of Justice's Victim Notification System. VNS is a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Attorney's Offices, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Criminal Division. This free, computer-based system provides federal crime victims with information on scheduled court events, as well as the outcome of those court events. It also provides victims with information on the offender's custody status and release.
In addition to the written notifications generated through VNS, victims can obtain automated status information by calling the VNS Call Center at 1-866-365-4968 (1-866-DOJ-4YOU) or by accessing the VNS Internet site at https://www.notify.usdoj.gov/index.jsp. A victim ID# and PIN# are required to access the VNS Call Center or VNS Internet site.
Federal Bureau of Prisons Notification:
Victim/Witness Notification Program
The Bureau's Victim/Witness Notification Program ensures that crime victims and witnesses enrolled in the program are notified within specific time frames of an inmate's admission to or release from an institution, and about other events concerning an inmate, such as changes in status or parole hearings.
In 2002, in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Executive Office for the U.S. Attorneys' office, the Bureau implemented the automated Victim Notification System (VNS); and in 2004, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service became a partner in the system. The VNS is a Department of Justice (DOJ) system that is designed to provide information and notification to victims of Federal crime. The VNS links participating agencies through the DOJ Intranet and allows each agency to share victim information, thus ensuring continuous service to crime victims throughout the criminal justice process. The system contains the names of all identified victims of Federal crimes. Information about victims is entered into the system at the time they are identified following the commission of a crime and the information is used to make notification(s) during the arrest, arraignment, prosecutorial, and confinement phases.
VNS is a free service to crime victims by which notifications are sent providing information about significant events during an offenders' incarceration. Notifications are made available in English or Spanish. In addition to the notification letters provided, VNS provides a toll-free Call Center and a VNS Internet Site to crime victims. Individual victims will be provided a Victim Identification Number (VIN) and a Personal Identification Numbers (PIN). These numbers are necessary to access information available via the VNS Call Center or the VNS Internet Site. Each of these services allow victims to access information, receive notifications, change contact information, and/or elect to stop receiving notifications.
The VNS Call Center can be reached at 1-866-365-4968 and Notify USDOJ can be used to access the Victim Internet Site. Most questions regarding the VNS are addressed in the brochure provided to victims in their initial notification letter. Additional questions regarding the VNS or the Bureau's notification procedures can be addressed to our Victim-Witness Coordinators at 202-307-0884 or 202-307-2878.
Type of notification
Release. Before an inmate completes his/her sentence, the victim/witness will be notified of the release date, the city and state of destination, and if applicable, the supervising U.S. Probation office.
Escape. If an inmate escapes, the victim/witness will be notified by phone of the date and time of the escape as soon as possible.
Furlough. If an inmate is approved for an unescorted trip to the community, the victim/witness will be notified of the starting and ending dates of the furlough, as well as the specific location. Only inmates who meet specific security standards are considered for furloughs, and these typically occur during the inmate's final year of confinement. Transfer to a community corrections center (halfway house). Once it is confirmed that an inmate has been approved for transfer to a halfway house, the victim/witness will be notified of the name and location of the facility, the transfer date, and the inmate's tentative release date from the halfway house. Transfers to halfway houses usually happen 3 to 6 months before an inmate's final release date to the community. The halfway house is generally located near the inmate's projected area of release.
Parole Hearings. If an inmate is eligible for parole and is receiving a parole hearing, the victim/witness is notified. The victim/witness may appear in person or submit a written statement to the U.S. Parole Commission.
Death. If an inmate dies while confined, the victim/witness will be notified of the date of death.
From time to time, inmates are transferred between Bureau facilities for various reasons. Victims and witnesses are not routinely notified of these internal transfers.
Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP)
The IFRP was implemented to ensure that sentenced inmates develop a financial plan for meeting court-ordered and other legitimate financial obligations, including, in many cases, payments to victims.
Payments are made electronically through an inmate's trust fund account and include earnings from prison work assignments. Each inmate with a financial obligation, regardless of the extent of his or her resources, is encouraged to develop a financial payment plan. Through an automated information system, staff can review an offender's financial obligations and monitor compliance. Ordinarily, failure to satisfy the payment plan affects an inmate's consideration for parole, housing assignments, work assignments, performance pay, release gratuities, and community programs. Institution-level enforcement, regional office monitoring, and program reviews ensure policy compliance and the IFRP's success. The IFRP exists in all Bureau facilities.
With the exception of direct restitution payments to victims, most funds collected by the IFRP are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund, and are subsequently distributed to the states for victim assistance and compensation programs. The IFRP is thus another mechanism for holding inmates accountable to society.
Since implementation, millions of dollars have been collected to promote and assist victim assistance programs. Also, over the years, participation rate and collections have increased. Collections for recent fiscal years (FY) are as follows:
FY 1996 $3,755,134.71
FY 1997 $4,899,247.32
FY 1998 $5,843,000.00
FY 1999 $7,303,866.00
FY 2000 $7,312,864.00
FY 2002 $8,055,369.81
FY 2003 $8,659,659.00
FY 2004 $9,549,389.00
FY 2005 $9,808,417.60
FY 2006 $10,020,375.17
FY 2007 $10,091,974.08
The Federal Bureau of Investigation:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for investigating a wide range of federal crimes. Part of the FBI's work involves providing information and assistance to victims of those crimes. Crime can have a devastating effect on victims and their families who may need help coping with the impact of victimization. FBI Victim Specialists are highly trained professionals who can assist you and coordinate with other agencies in providing you with the support, information, and resources that can effectively meet your needs. Victim Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A federal investigation can be both complex and lengthy. It may involve several agencies, some federal and some local. This brochure provides information to help you deal with the needs and questions that often arise during an investigation. It describes your rights under federal law and the types of services that may be available to you. Please contact your FBI Victim Specialist if you have any questions.
As a Crime Victim, You Have the Following Rights under 18 United States Code, Section 3771:
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused;
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused;
- The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after reviewing clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding;
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving the release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding;
- The right to confer with the attorney for the government in the case;
- The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law;
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay;
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
We will make our best efforts to ensure you are afforded the rights described. Most of these rights pertain to events occurring after the indictment of an individual for the crime, and it will be the responsibility of the prosecuting United States Attorney's Office to ensure you are afforded those rights. You may also seek the advice of a private attorney with respect to these rights.
If You Are Threatened or Harassed
Your safety is paramount. If anyone threatens you or you feel that you are being harassed because of your cooperation with this investigation, there are available remedies. If you are in immediate danger, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Also, you should contact your Victim Specialist or the Case Agent and inform them of the situation. There are penalties for harassment and other threats; therefore, it is important that you report any incident as soon as possible.
If You Need Financial Help or Support Services
All states have crime victims compensation programs that help cover some expenses resulting from violent crimes. Your state program may pay for medical and mental health care costs, lost wages and support, and funeral and burial expenses not covered by insurance or other benefits. Your FBI Victim Specialist may be able to help intercede on your behalf with employers and creditors, when appropriate. In addition, your Victim Specialist can refer you to other types of programs and services, such as emergency housing, counseling, support groups, and credit counseling. If the offender is convicted or pleads guilty, the court may order payment by the offender, called restitution, which may help cover expenses and losses caused by your victimization.
If Your Property Was Stolen or Held As Evidence
If your property was stolen, we hope to recover it as part of our investigation and return it as soon as possible. If your property is held as evidence, we will notify you, maintain it in good condition, and make every effort to see that it is returned to you as quickly as possible when it is no longer needed as evidence. Please understand that some property we receive as evidence has been damaged during the course of the crime.
If an Arrest Is Made
Every effort will be made to notify you if a suspect is apprehended. If criminal charges are filed, you will be contacted by the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) assigned to handle your case. Each USAO has a Victim Witness Coordinator to help answer your questions and deal with your concerns during the prosecution of the case.
Victim Notification System (VNS)
VNS is a free service that provides victims of federal crime with information and notification regarding the status of the case and the offender's custody status, to include court hearings, sentencing, parole and release. Information is provided in English or Spanish.
To access this system, your Victim Specialist will provide you with a Victim Identification Number (VIN) and a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you have chosen to participate in VNS, but have not received these numbers, please contact the Victim Specialist at your local FBI field office.
You will receive letters, as updates to your case are available. You may also call the VNS Call Center at 1-866-365-4968 or access VNS online at http://www.notify.usdoj.gov for current case, court, or custody information. You will be prompted to provide both your VIN and PIN when contacting the VNS Call Center.
The Call Center and VNS is available on the Internet during the following hours (Eastern Standard Time):
Monday-Friday 6 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Saturday 6 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.