Justice for crime victims is incomplete when their rights to restitution are ignored. Restitution is an important statutory right, a way to recoup financial losses incurred by the crime, and an affirmation that the offender is making amends for some of the harm caused directly to the victim. Under current Federal law, the ordering of restitution by the courts is mandatory for victims of violent crimes and victims suffering physical or financial loss as a result of a crime. All fifty states allow for restitution to be ordered by law or by constitution and in over half the states restitution is mandatory. Yet the right to restitution is enforced with uneven diligence, and the ordering, collection, and distribution of restitution are riddled with difficulties and dissent. State infrastructures vary in their ability to enforce restitution obligations. Attitudinal conflicts, opposing priorities, and inadequate protocols create barriers in the delivery process from arrest to post supervision.
The draft material presented in A Compendium of Promising Practices for Restitution, an unpublished project written by Anne H. Crowe of the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), and Morna Murray and Melissa Hook from the Victims’ Assistance Legal Organization (VALOR) is an in-depth look at barriers that criminal justice professionals face in their efforts to improve the delivery of restitution to crime victims. It discusses ways that the culture of probation and parole must change to facilitate enforcement of restitution. It describes enabling laws and successful practices that streamline the restitution process, improve offender accountability, establish better interagency coordination and cooperation, clarify roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and increase sensitivity to victims' rights and concerns.
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