March 13, 2007

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute (PDAI) has been named subgrantee by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) on a project that will bring to Pennsylvanians a new automated system to help notify citizens when an offender escapes or is released from a county prison.

PDAI will be responsible for the implementation of the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification System, or SAVIN, which comes from a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Once implemented, crime victims and interested citizens will be able to register via email, telephone or regular mail to receive an around-the-clock, automated phone call notifying them of a release or escape of an offender housed in 63 of Pennsylvania’s county prison systems.

“In the last decade, Pennsylvania District Attorneys have been dedicated to providing victims of crime with better recognition, information, and support,” said John F. Cowley, President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute and District Attorney of Tioga County. “The Institute is proud to have been selected to help implement this next generation of victim services in Pennsylvania and looks forward to working with victim advocates, law enforcement, corrections officials and state agencies to ensure SAVIN meets Pennsylvania’s unique needs.”

“We are pleased that this important and potentially life-saving project continues to move forward with the help of PDAI,” said PCCD Chairman Walter M. Phillips Jr. “SAVIN will be a useful new component to victim services in Pennsylvania and with PDAI’s help, there’s no question that when the SAVIN system is completed, it will enhance public safety for all.”

The Department of Justice grant covers the implementation of SAVIN in 61 counties over the next 18 months, including eight pilot counties in the first year. Philadelphia, Allegheny, Chester, Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Erie are scheduled to be the first counties to be integrated in the SAVIN system. The remaining counties are expected to follow. Cameron, Forest, Fulton and Sullivan counties have no county jails, but citizens will be able to use SAVIN to track offenders through the county jails that house their offenders. Centre County has already successfully implemented an automated notification system similar to SAVIN and Clinton County is in its final stages of implementation.

The new system will complement an existing system operated by the state Office of Victim Advocate that provides notification to crime victims regarding offenders within the state Department of Corrections and the state Board of Probation and Parole.

PDAI is the education and training affiliate of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association based in Harrisburg, PA and has a history of collaborating with PCCD. Through the Juvenile Justice and Prosecutor and Law Enforcement grant programs, PCCD provides some funding for PDAI to develop and provide educational materials and training seminars for district attorneys and law enforcement officers. Through the Victim Witness Grant program, PDAI coordinates professional training for victim advocates throughout the state. PDAI was also a PCCD subgrantee for the Prosecutors Management System grant, in which it provided training and tech support for the case management component of a juvenile offender and victim witness software system in 51 of Pennsylvania counties.