Contact: Kathryn Mathieson For Immediate Release
802) 828-2148 April 7, 2005
81 Vermonters Are Enrolled in Address Confidentiality Program
Montpelier. Today, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz announced that there are 81 Vermont women, men and children participating in the Safe At Home Address Confidentiality Program. The Safe at Home program is designed to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking from being tracked down through the public records system.
Markowitz said “This office discovered that offenders could use the rules that require government records to be made available for public inspection to locate and then harm the victims of their crimes. Rather than responding by closing the public records, my office worked with various victim advocacy groups including the Vermont Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Vermont Commission on Women and our state legislature to craft a system to help keep victims’ locations confidential.”
Safe at Home helps participants keep their home, work and school addresses confidential by providing a substitute address to use when creating or updating public records. Their mail is then forwarded to their confidential address. The program has three elements.
1. Confidential Address. Once a program participant moves to a new, confidential address that is not already reflected in a public record, he or she can use the Secretary of State post office box as his or her legal address.
2. Mail Forwarding. Program participants authorize the Secretary of State to accept legal documents and mail on their behalf. The office then receives and forwards legal documents, first- class and certified mail and mail from government agencies to a participant’s new and confidential location.
3. Keep Confidential Address Out of the Public Records. Under the Safe at Home program the Secretary of State's Office works with state and local agencies throughout the state to ensure program participants’ addresses remain confidential. Because the address in public records is the post office box of the Secretary of State, these agencies are free to respond to requests for public record information without fear of disclosing the actual location of program participants.
Markowitz said, “April 10th through 16th is National Crime Victims’ Rights week. This week and throughout the year many Vermonters work hard to ensure that, in the aftermath of crime, victims are treated with compassion and dignity. The Safe at Home program is an important part of the service network that is available to help protect Vermont's victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. No one should have to live in fear. “
For more information about the Safe at Home program please call toll free at 1-800-439-8683 or visit the Secretary of State’s website at www.sec.state.vt.us.