The Importance of Restitution Program Evaluation
(Portions of the following section are excerpted from Chapter Ten, "Information Management and Evaluation of Restitution Programs" from Promising Practices in Restitution, a survey and research project conducted by the Victims Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) and the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), with support from the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice.)
Restitution programs should be evaluated regularly for case management effectiveness, compliance, and the satisfaction of the target population served. A program evaluation should review the processes of the agency charged with the restitution task, the outcomes, and the impact of the program on victims, offenders, program personnel, the community, and other stakeholders. In a survey of criminal justice agencies charged with collecting restitution conducted by the Victims Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) and The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), nearly 60 percent answered affirmatively that their jurisdiction collected restitution data. Typically this collected data included:
Of those agencies surveyed, only 16 percent responded that they routinely monitored victim satisfaction.
EVALUATING VICTIM SATISFACTION
Victims were also asked if they would refer friends who need help with a restitution order to the department for assistance and which victim services they found to be most helpful and least helpful.
Community Corrections in Dakota County, Minnesota, conducted a self-assessment of their program in 1998 that included an evaluation of the restitution program. When looking at accountability and enforcement of court-ordered sanctions, they found that the rate of total restitution paid by discharged offenders increased from 64 percent in 1996 to 81 percent in 1998. Of all the restitution owed among discharged offenders, the percentage paid increased from 54 percent in 1996 to 67 percent in 1998.
Furthermore, to improve the monitoring of the restitution programs in Dakota County, Community Corrections obtained a grant to hire a part-time staff member to analyze the efficacy of the various enhanced collection efforts and the rate and timelines of restitution collection in the county. Since early 2000, the staff member has tracked the restitution compliance of 300 high-risk juvenile cases and 1,500 high-risk adult felony offenders. The goal of the project is to find ways to bring efficiency to restitution collection with the agency.