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Restitution: Making It Work

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2002
6 pages
Publication Series
This paper examines ways in which States have sought to improve the collection of restitution payments.
All States have statutory provisions that relate to the collection of restitution. The issue has been addressed by laying the groundwork for collecting restitution at sentencing and enforcing restitution orders during the payment period. The sentencing court can lay the groundwork for collecting restitution by thoroughly investigating the assets of convicted offenders, preserving those assets, and routinely entering income deduction orders. A first step in any effort to improve the collection of restitution must be a system for monitoring a defendant's compliance with the restitution order. Accurate information regarding payment must be shared among agencies that have a role in collecting restitution. Some States have attempted to improve the collection of restitution and other court-ordered payment through a single system. Some States allow by statute various State payments, which ordinarily would first go to the defendant, to be used to satisfy restitution orders. By law, many prison work programs must direct a portion of the offender's wages to the payment of restitution. States generally provide that probation or parole may be revoked for failure to pay restitution; however, the offender's failure must be willful. Some States permit the extension of probation or parole when restitution remains unpaid at the time supervision is to expire. Several States have amended their law to allow restitution orders, particularly orders in default, to be referred to private collection agencies. Most States allow restitution orders to be converted to civil judgments, especially when restitution remains unpaid at the end of the defendant's probation or parole. Data are generally lacking on the amount of restitution ordered and collected. Until the information is available, States will continue to be hampered in their efforts to improve restitution collection. The State should provide information to crime victims on how restitution orders can be converted to civil judgments. 47 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2002