MoVANS enhancements will not benefit all counties
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MoVANS enhancements will not benefit all counties

Date: October 24, 2007
By: Lucie Wolken
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Domestic violence victims will have an enhanced notification system under changes implemented by the state that were announced this week.

The Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MoVANS) provides information to victims of domestic or sexual assault of their offender's parole hearing dates, where they are being housed, and whether the offender is on work release. 

"The new version is now going to provide notification on the service of the protection order," said Marc Peoples, Manger of the Public Safety Department.  "Before, when a protective order was served, the victim has no clue, besides them having to continually call the sheriffs department to say, for example, 'have you served Marc Peoples yet?'"

With the enhancement, victims can register for a confidential pin number and receive automated updates through telephone, email, or written letter, said Jessica Robinson, a spokesperson for the governor.  

The completion comes a week before the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Week. 

The program is funded through the crime victims compensation fund, not tax dollars -- MoVANS is not required in counties under state law.

"This was not a state mandate, sheriffs wanted to participate," Peoples said.  "They were concerned with making sure victims got their information that they needed, so all the sheriffs pretty much signed up at that time."

According to Lisa Weingarth,communications coordinator for Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, not all Missouri counties stand to benefit from the program.  Weingarth's advocacy group has put their support behind the program.

Peoples said all counties were offered the opportunity to participate in the program when the funding became available, originally 4 opted out. 

"When we rolled out the system, everyone had an opportunity to participate, some did not." Peoples said.

Since originally opting out, 2 counties have had a change in heart, the remaining 2 -- Schulyer and Hickory -- have chosen not to participate. 

"It's too late now, the sights have already been awarded, yet it was applicable to them," Peoples said.  "We called, said we are going to ask for money to bring your sights online and they said they weren't interested." 

The project was tested in June in four counties across the state -- St. Louis City, Cole, Boone, and Buchanan.

To register for  the system, victims must contact the Office of Victim Services. 

Once registered, to access MoVANS, a toll free number is available for information regarding the offender's status. 

The announcement comes on the same day starting lineman for the St. Louis Rams, Claude Terrell,  was arrested for assault with bodily injury to a family member.