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Glitch sends false notice to crime victims, triggers probe

March 21, 2015

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — Routine computer maintenance caused a major technical glitch that sent out thousands of false reports saying prison inmates had been released, according to Oregon officials.

About 8,000 incorrect notices went out to victims and their families Friday evening, including an alert that wrongfully said a prisoner convicted of killing two schoolgirls in Oregon City had been discharged.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Betty Bernt says the system contractor, Appriss, has twice alerted those who received the notifications to say they were erroneous.

The glitch, Bernt said, happened while the state was updating its large inmate database, which contains about 15,000 files. She said the notification system will be offline until repairs and an investigation into the problem are complete.

Appriss spokeswoman Karen Keck said the notification system — called VINE, or Victim Information and Notification Everyday — is used in 47 states, but the glitch was limited to Oregon. The company confirmed in a statement that the problem came from the large update.

Keck says the notifications that were erroneously sent out pertained to 1,891 inmates.

Crime victims who use the service can register to receive automated notifications about changes in offenders’ status via phone, email or text.

It was the first time the state’s notification system experienced such problems, Bernt said.

Oregon launched the statewide VINE service in 2001, the Corrections Department said.

Both the Corrections Department and Appriss apologized for the error messages.

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