State BOPP enhancing services to crime victims

State BOPP enhancing services to crime victims

The Board of Probation and Parole is using technology to help victims of crime take part in the parole process. The agency’s video-conferencing equipment allows victims to participate in hearings from a BOPP office near home, without incurring expensive travel costs.  It also allows victims to speak without being in the same room as the offender in their case.
“The victim’s perspective is a key element in the parole review process,” says Board Chairman Charles Traughber.  “It’s important that we make it as comfortable as possible for victims to provide their statements.”
Video-conferencing equipment at seven BOPP offices across the state is within easy travel distance of most communities.  It connects to equipment at prisons where parole review hearings are held, so hearings proceed as if all parties were in the same room.
“Video-conferencing is one of the most useful tools we have to serve victims,” says BOPP Victim Liaison Services Director Jennifer Brinkman.  
“Victims who want to offer statements in parole hearings are often hesitant about sitting in a room across from the person who committed a crime against them. This removes the emotional barrier and makes the whole process less stressful.”  
The Board of Probation and Parole provides crime victims with other services as well, including notification of hearings involving the offenders in their cases.  By going to BOPP’s website, victims can request notification of an upcoming hearing, file a change of address or even give a victim impact statement.  BOPP’s Victim Services home page is at http://www.tn.gov/bopp/bopp_bo_vs.htm.  
Crime victims can also email BOPP about parole matters at Victim.Witness@tn.gov.
For more information, contact Melissa McDonald at 615.532.8149.
The Board of Probation and Parole (www.tn.gov/bopp/) is an independent seven-member board whose members are appointed by the Governor.  The Board is charged with the responsibility of deciding which eligible felony offenders will be granted parole and released from incarceration to community-based supervision.  
Along with the supervision of those granted parole, the Board is also responsible for supervising felony offenders who are placed on probation by criminal courts.  
WCP 9.30.10

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