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A life-saver of an idea

April 12, 2007

There's good news and bad news for victims of crime in Pennsylvania this week.

The good news: Starting this summer, witnesses or victims of crime who fear the day when the person they testified against will be out of jail can now sign up to be notified by phone call.

The bad news: The service, at least for now, won't be available in Franklin and Fulton counties.

The service is provided through Appriss Inc., a Louisville, Ky., company courtesy of a $1.5 million federal grant.

According to The Associated Press, there are eight pilot counties, including Allegheny, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia will "go live" in June or July, followed by other pilot counties later in the year. The hope is that it will b available statewide within the next two years.

The system gets updates from jails every 15 minutes and will notify those who sign up by phone, e-mail or by regular mail.

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As for state prison inmates, the state's Office of Victim Advocates said their notification system could be converted to Appriss under a proposal now being developed.

For victims of domestic violence who live in fear that their tormentor will return without warning, this system could be a life-saver. We urge local officials to do everything possible to get it up and running locally as soon as possible.

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