Funding for portion of VINE in trouble - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Funding for portion of VINE in trouble

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Steven Bowling Steven Bowling
Mary Byron (Source: WAVE 3 Archives) Mary Byron (Source: WAVE 3 Archives)
Source: WAVE 3 Archives Source: WAVE 3 Archives
Source: WAVE 3 Archives Source: WAVE 3 Archives

By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Just days before the special session begins, a cry for help is going out to Kentucky lawmakers. A service that notifies domestic violence victims when their abusers are served with emergency protective orders is in danger of being scrapped.

As of July 1, there is a real danger of losing a portion of the Victim Information Notification Everyday, or VINE. The VINE system's protective order phone service is one that many states adopted after Kentucky created it five years ago. But there is concern around the state from victims and their advocates after hearing there is no money for it in Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed budget. 

"The house was being destroyed and he was changing locks," said a woman we will call Mary, who fled her abusive husband. "As long as he's not being served, I'm not going to leave here because I don't know where he's at." 

For the last two and half weeks, Mary has been safe behind the secure doors of The Center for Women and Families in Louisville and is frequently calling the VINE system's protective order service to find out if police have caught up with the estranged husband she fears.  

"I can call every day to see if the EPO has been served," Mary said. 

The service that is automated and staffed began in the Bluegrass in 2005 in honor of another Mary. In December 1993, Mary Byron was shot and killed in the Mall St. Matthews parking lot after leaving work when her former abusive boyfriend was released from jail without her knowledge.  

Other states followed Kentucky's lead adopting the program. Currently, 4000 people in teh Commonwealth are registered for the service.  

"Once they know that their perpetrator is either in jail or is not getting out for a while or is not going to be paroled they can go along living their lives and really start the road of recovery," said Steven Bowling, director of Community Engagement at the Center for Women and Families. 

But in this down economy, at a cost of $240,000 a year to staff and maintain, the Protective Order Notification System is not included in Beshear's new budget.  

"This is a vital system that we can't afford to lose in the state of Kentucky," Bowling said.  

"Is it more important to get the roads fixed and take VINE away?" Mary asked. "Is that more important to the Governor because there's going to be a lot of women that's really hurt." 

Since it began, Protective Order Notification has been federally funded. That money is now gone.  

We contacted the Governor's office for comment. Spokesperson Kerri Richardson says since finding out the federal funding has run out, the Justice Cabinet has applied for new federal grant money to continue operating these highly valuable programs. 

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