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Victim Notification

  • How can I receive notification about an offender in prison?
  • Victims, their family members and concerned citizens may request written notification by contacting the Victim Services Division. Please call our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or write to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or e-mail victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov to register. Notifications include notice of an offender’s parole eligibility, Board decisions, release to and return from Bench Warrant, discharge dates, along with many other notices. Any information you supply will remain confidential.

  • What services will I receive by registering for notification?
  • Victim Services Division offers letter and e-mail notification regarding Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) offenders throughout the criminal justice process. We also offer an informational hotline answered by phone operators Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. The toll free number is (800) 848-4284. In addition, an automated service is available that provides a telephone call when an offender is scheduled for release. Text notifications are provided to eligible registrants on warrant actions for offenders on supervision. To register for any of these services, please call our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or write to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd, Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or e-mail victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov. More >>

  • Is there a system that provides offender information 24 hours a day?
  • Victim Services Division offers limited offender information through the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system. The VINE toll free number for automated information is (877) 894-8463 and is available 24 hours day, 7 days a week. You can contact the Victim Services Division to register for notification by calling our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or writing to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or via e-mail at victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov for further information.

  • What is the difference between registering with VINE and registering with Victim Services?
  • Victim Services Division provides comprehensive written notification while an offender is in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and while on parole supervision. These notifications include notice of an offender’s parole eligibility, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles decisions, release to and from bench warrant, discharge dates, along with many other notices.

    Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) offers an automated system that supplies limited TDCJ offender information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. VINE also offers a system that provides an automated telephone call prior to an offender’s release. To register for any of these services, please contact Victim Services Division by calling our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or writing to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or via e-mail at victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov.

  • Can I be notified when an offender is released from prison?
  • Yes, if registered with the Victim Services Division you will receive written notifications regarding an offender’s upcoming release. In addition, you may request to receive an automated telephone call through the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system when an offender is being processed for release. To register for this service, please contact Victim Services Division by calling our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or writing to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or via e-mail at victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov.

  • How can I protest an offender’s release and what do I say in my protest letter?
  • You may submit written protest letters to Victim Services at 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas 78757-6899, via fax to (512) 452-0825, or via e-mail at victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov. All protest information is confidential. The requestor must submit their protest in writing and should explain in detail the reason(s) for the protest. This can include details of the offense, the impact of the offense and any fears or concerns.

  • Can I meet with the Board of Pardons and Paroles?
  • Victims, as defined in the Chapter 508, Section 508.117 (g) of the Texas Government Code, may request an in-person interview with a voting member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles when their offender is being considered for parole. The interview request must be registered through Victim Services by calling our toll free number (800) 848-4284 or writing to 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin, Texas, 78757-6899 or via e-mail at victim.svc@tdcj.texas.gov. Additional statutes governing Parole Board interviews are included in Chapter 508, Section 508.153.

Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse

Victim-Offender Mediation Dialogue (VOMD)

Victim Impact Panel Program

  • How can a victim apply to become a victim impact panelist?
  • Contact the Victim Services Division office at (800) 848-4284 and ask to speak with the Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse staff or the Victim Services Division Volunteer Coordinator. Crime victims who wish to volunteer as panelists will need to apply to be a TDCJ approved volunteer.

  • Does the offender have to be in prison in order for a victim/survivor to be a panelist?
  • Not necessarily; however, if charges were filed, the case must have already been adjudicated and the case cannot be pending in the court system. The Victim Services Division will make a determination on cases that are unsolved or never prosecuted.

  • What does a victim/survivor gain from being on a victim impact panel?
  • The road of recovery is a personal journey, and is experienced in various ways by different individuals. Victims who have participated have reported a sense of empowerment and healing as a result of their participation. The main purpose of the program is to provide this forum for victims so they may obtain support, validation and affirmation, and derive whatever healing they can from speaking on a panel.

  • Why are victim impact panels used in trainings for criminal justice professionals?
  • It is important that professionals in the field of criminal justice are cognizant of victims’ issues and aware of resources and best practices when coming into contact or working with victims. The use of victim impact panels in conjunction with training heightens the criminal justice professional’s awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the victim, and personalizes the effects of crime, reminding the professional that there is ‘another side to the story’.

  • Why are victim impact panels provided for offenders?
  • Victims do not make the choice to become victims, but are involuntarily introduced to the criminal justice system and may suffer a lifetime of painful repercussions from the crime. Panelists help offenders realize the lasting and long-term effects of their crime. This raises awareness and addresses accountability for offenders, many of whom subsequently express remorse for their actions and report having a better understanding of the widespread negative results of criminal behavior.

  • What should an offender do when/if court ordered to attend a victim impact panel?
  • An offender should first ask the supervising court or probation department if there is a designated location/date/time to attend a panel. If their sentence is for an alcohol/substance abuse related offense such as DWI, the offender can also contact the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter and inquire whether they conduct regularly scheduled VIPs at a location near them.

Victim Survivors Viewing Executions

  • Is execution viewing limited to immediate family members of the deceased?
  • Initially, victim witnesses were limited to immediate family of the deceased. In 1998, at the request of victim survivors, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice revised this rule. The victim’s family is given the opportunity to invite close friends of the deceased or surviving relatives, law enforcement officials, and prosecutors previously involved in the case the opportunity to view. In May 2008, the Board expanded the rule allowing victim witnesses to be accompanied by a spiritual advisor.

  • How many victim witnesses may view an execution, and can anyone attend the execution without viewing?
  • When there is one victim, five victim witnesses are allowed to view. With multiple victims, the victim witnesses may be increased to six; however, the victim witness slots are divided evenly between the families of the victims.

    If there are multiple victims, the family with the capital murder conviction for which the offender received the death sentence has priority over the witness slots, with any unused slots going to the families of the other victims whose murder the offender was undeniably responsible.

    Victim witnesses may also have three support person slots per execution. These are persons that may accompany the victim witnesses to Huntsville for support, but must remain in the support room during the execution.

    Victim Services Division staff will accompany both victim witnesses and their support persons during the entire execution process.

  • What time do executions take place and where?
  • The execution order states that the executions will take place after 6:00 p.m. on the scheduled date. There are times when pending legal issues in the courts or with the Governor may cause the execution to be delayed until the issues are resolved. There have also been occasions when the courts have granted a “stay of execution.”

  • Are victim witnesses prepared for viewing the execution?
  • Yes, the victim witnesses generally meet with a representative of the TDCJ-Victim Services Division on the afternoon of the execution at a designated location in Huntsville, Texas. The witnesses and support persons are advised regarding what to expect from the time they arrive at the prison unit until their departure.

  • What can an inmate say during their last statement?
  • The offender may say anything during the last statement, or choose not to make a statement. Some have expressed remorse for their crime, addressed their witnesses, and occasionally addressed the victim witnesses. Others have professed their innocence and criticized the criminal justice system.

  • What happens after the execution?
  • After the execution, the victim witnesses return to the room where their support persons have stayed during the execution. They are allowed as much time as necessary to share about the experience. The entire group will then be escorted to a media conference, if requested by the victim witnesses, or away from the prison unit. Victim Services staff will make follow-up contact a few weeks after an execution to offer additional assistance as needed.