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State legislatures and criminal justice experts alike have recognized that holding a convicted offender financially responsible for the harm caused by the crime is a proper criminal sanction. They also recognize the importance of restitution in promoting the recovery of the crime victim. However, until the process of collecting restitution improves, these twin benefits cannot be fully realized. This process must begin before the restitution is ordered, with a thorough investigation of the defendant’s assets and earning abilities and the court’s ability to preserve those assets when necessary. At the same time, a state must have a system in place to monitor compliance with restitution orders and the means to enforce the orders. With increased focus on all aspects of collection, states have the potential to make restitution orders far more meaningful.

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Restitution: Making It Work, Legal Series Bulletin #5
November 2002
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