South Dakota SAVIN offender alert system available to more than victims

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 6:26 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -When a victim of a crime tries to put a traumatic event behind them, it can bring peace of mind to receive updates on the offender’s upcoming court dates, incarceration information, possible parole, or even if they escape.

An upgrade to offender alerts came from a legislative decision. The directors of the SAVIN system hope more people become aware of the service.

One of the SAVIN users is Holly Wethor. Her offender was just paroled. Although she has a large number of security cameras and a guard dog, Wethor also has peace of mind from alerts from the SAVIN system. If her offender is an absconder, she’ll be notified. She says the notifications are a group effort.

“So the clerk of courts, the state attorneys, prosecutors, the DOC at the prison. They’re all supposed to be updating these court dates,” said Wethor.

Those who receive the thousands of Court and Department of Corrections details daily explain how the notification system works. Deeadra Kinniburgh is the South Dakota Savin Program Coordinator.

“It’s kind of like the post office. We deliver the messages. We don’t create the messages we don’t decide what content gets sent where the delivery system,” said Kinniburgh.

You can enter your information online, or make a call.

“You can call us and we will help register you will do it right there on the phone,” said Kinniburgh.

Theresa Hermsen was one of the first to sign up for the Savin System in 2016.

“When the day came, that he was released. Yes, my phone blew up with the Savin notification and I was fully aware of when he was walking out of there. Yes, it helped me feel more secure,” said Hermsen.

While some may assume Savin is only for victims, anyone can sign up, such as a neighbor concerned for their safety, or anyone who wants to know.

“You do not have to be associated with the case in any way to register for information as an interested party,” said Kinniburgh.

With a network of reporting agencies, it’s best to follow up on details directly to ensure court dates haven’t changed, or that a notification wasn’t overlooked.

“You are your own advocate. So contact the courthouse, contact your victim advocate in the courthouse,” said Wethor.

Jamie Reed, the IT Administrator for the Attorney General’s Office, and the DCI spearheaded the program to launch SAVIN.

“The system is there for you. It is free to the public for whoever wants to sign up,” said Reed.

Each person can choose to receive messages via text, phone calls, emails, and letters.

“We hope that people feel that Savin is doing some good for them and for the communities and it helps them feel a little bit more safe,” said Wethor.

There are a handful of South Dakota jails that do not report to the Savin system. When you contact a Savin representative, they will let you know if a jail needs to be contacted directly.

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