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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century - Restitution

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
12 pages
Restitution holds offenders partially or fully accountable for the financial losses suffered by their victims and is typically ordered in both juvenile and criminal courts to compensate victims for out-of-pocket expenses that result directly from crime.
Restitution is most often ordered in cases of property crime but may also be used to reimburse violent crime victims for current and future expenses related to their physical and mental recovery and to make up for loss of support for homicide victim survivors. Other cases in which restitution is ordered include theft of services, fraud, forgery, and vehicle and traffic law violations. Restitution is not a punishment or an alternative to offender fines, sanctions, and interventions; rather, it is a debt owed to victims. Research studies indicate restitution is one of the most significant factors affecting victim satisfaction with the criminal justice system. Because restitution can be a complex process, models for implementing restitution statutes are presented and procedures are outlined for coordinating interagency restitution collection and automated restitution systems. Innovative approaches to collecting restitution are noted, such as the forfeiture of bond money, restitution collection in institutions, community restitution, and the use of private collection agencies. Recommendations to improve the restitution process are offered. 30 endnotes

Date Published: August 1, 1998