|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||OVC||FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 1997||202/307-0703|
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WORKS TO ENSURE VICTIMS RECEIVE PAYMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) today awarded a grant to the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) to examine existing obstacles to the effective management and collection of restitution. The APPA also will use grant funds to identify promising practices in the criminal and juvenile justice systems to establish and enforce orders of restitution and to ensure that victims receive the payment due them.
Victims are often pushed to bankruptcy by the loss of income and medical expenses they face as a result of the crime. Even nominal amounts of restitution can be helpful.
"There has been growth in the interest of restitution reform due to increasing awareness of its importance to victims," said Aileen Adams, OVC Director. "Effective restitution practices help victims achieve satisfaction with the criminal justice system."
The courts have discretion as to whether to order restitution. Restitution may never be paid fully by offenders, and some that is paid may never reach the victim. Other issues include problems collecting restitution from indigent offenders, insufficient information about offenders' assets, inappropriate payment schedules and insufficient resources required to enforce payment of restitution.
"But it's not really about money, it's about justice," said Adams. "Restitution helps victims achieve healing and holds offenders accountable for their actions. It's not an alternative to punishment -- victims deserve restitution regardless of other punishment. Also, offenders' restitution payments don't necessarily have to be monetary. Community service is often an appropriate form of restitution, depending on the offense."
The APPA will interview prosecutors, victim advocates, judges, attorneys who represent victims, court administrators and probation, parole and prison personnel. An advisory panel will be established to discuss the identified obstacles and techniques for managing and collecting restitution and a plan for disseminating the project's information.
OVC is the federal government's chief advocate for crime victims and their families. To learn more about OVC, its programs and resources, see the World Wide Web site at http://www.ncjrs.org/ovchome.htm or the OJP home page at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Or, call the OVC Resource Center at 800/627-6872.
After hours, page Linda Mansour on 202/516-6800