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SAVIN Conference. April 2007. Lessons Learned: Implementing and Maintaining the Texas Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service (SAVNS) April 17, 2007.

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Lessons Learned:Implementing and Maintaining the Texas Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service (SAVNS) April 17, 2007
Are we asking too much if we ask to be told when and where the trial will take place? Are we asking too much if we want to be notified of plea bargaining before we read it in the paper?--a victim
  • President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, 1982
meeting the challenge
Meeting the Challenge

Exploration in Texas

The Texas Attorney General decided to explore the feasibility of establishing a single statewide system that could:

  • Ensure consistency and accuracy of information.
  • Be available to as many victims as possible.
  • Provide an effective use of resources.
meeting the challenge1
Meeting the Challenge

The Questions in Texas

  • Is a statewide service feasible for Texas?
  • If so, what would be its most efficient design and administration?
  • What will be the source of funding to meet victim needs and benefit service providers?
answering the questions the pilot a demonstration project
Answering the Questions:The Pilot - A Demonstration Project
  • The purpose of the pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a statewide automated service that could provide victims of crime with accurate information and timely notification regarding the status of a county jail inmate and related court events.
  • Five counties were selected for participation in the pilot study representing the ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity of Texas. These counties had varying population sizes, crime rates, number of victim services staff, and types of automation and technology.
selected savns pilot counties
Selected SAVNS Pilot Counties

Collingsworth County – Offender pop. - 17

Childress County – Offender pop. - 24

Dallas County – Offender pop. – 7,666

El Paso County- Offender pop. - 2464

Harris County – Offender pop. – 9,164

the statewide automated victim notification service savns mandate in 2001
The Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service (SAVNS) Mandate in 2001

In HB 1572, the Texas Legislature…

  • Continued funding for pilot counties
  • Appropriated funds to implement SAVNS
  • Recommended that the OAG work with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and/or Office of Court Administration to implement the system
project goals
Project Goals
  • Contract with a vendor or provider of service.
  • Develop a business model that would reimburse counties for costs incurred while participating in the Texas SAVNS Program.
  • Implement a single entry point (one toll-free statewide number) for victims.
  • Provide financial, monitoring and implementation support to the counties and TDCJ.
the challenges
The Challenges
  • Implement and maintain service in each of the 254 counties in Texas.
  • Find creative solutions for implementing and maintaining notification services in the most difficult counties.
number of participating counties to date by fiscal year
Number of Participating Counties to Date by Fiscal Year

Sub-Total Total

  • 2002/03 43 43
  • 2003/04 82 125
  • 2004/05 24 149
  • 2005/06 5 154
  • 2006/07 1 155
  • Withdrawn 12 143
what have we learned
What have we learned?

About Texas Counties:

  • Counties do elect to discontinue their participation in the service.
  • Some counties remain technically challenged. A number of counties in Texas are without access to computer based software.
  • Staff turnover in the jail and the court causes the system to break down. This happens because there tends to be limited transfer of knowledge regarding the program subsequent to promotion or transfer within an agency.
what have we learned1
What have we learned?

About Texas Counties continued:

  • Providing the program cost free to the county tends to reduce their commitment to the service.
  • There have been a number of events causing local notification issues. These include improper coding, release prior to data entry, and spelling names incorrectly.
  • Expectations for the OAG to provide on-site customer service, technical assistance, training, monitoring, and testimony before Commissioner’s Court explaining the nature and scope of the program.
where do we go from here
Where do we go from here?
  • How to keep counties interested in participating in the program. Since this program is voluntary and fully funded by the State, there is very little local incentive to effectively and efficiently maintain the program at peak levels.
  • Establish and maintain statewide plans for responding to emergency events throughout the state (i.e.: Katrina).
where do we go from here1
Where do we go from here?
  • Develop and implement competency-based training for jail and court personnel.
  • Provide training often on a regional basis to all stakeholders.
  • Work with service providers to minimize technical errors.
where do we go from here2
Where do we go from here?
  • Help rural counties establish computer based Jail Management Systems (JMS) and Record Management Systems (RMS) when and where possible.
  • Maintain and expand commitments in order to assure maximum statewide coverage.
  • Work with the vendor and counties to ensure good communication.
contacting texas staff
Contacting Texas Staff

Dr. Gary M. Walker, Project Director,


Chris Gersbach, Project Specialist,