NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 5 Supplement Financial Assistance for

Victims of Crime

Section 2, Restitution

Statewide Multiagency Collaborations

to Improve the Restitution Process

For the ordering, management, and collection of restitution in the criminal justice system to be effective, interagency collaboration and cooperation are essential. Jurisdiction personnel in Colorado and Utah have put together multiagency task forces to review their restitution laws, policies, and procedures. Individuals from state agencies and private organizations, including the judiciary, the department of corrections, the attorney general's office, crime victim compensation boards, district attorneys, victim/witness assistance, law enforcement, victim advocacy organizations, community corrections boards and providers, and the state board of parole participated in these multiagency task force efforts to comprehensively review and revise state restitution legislation and policy.

Colorado is the first state to have completed the process from initial investigation to garnering support of the stakeholders and politicians to passage of a comprehensive restitution bill that reflects the intent of their efforts.


In 1998, a team of criminal justice professionals and victim advocates in Colorado conducted an in-depth analysis of state restitution laws and the manner in which they operate within every agency involved in the management of restitution. Once they had a clear idea of what changes could be made to correct ambiguities in the law, and how to address the incompatibility of databases, lack of infrastructure within agencies, poor funding, insufficient staff, and monitoring difficulties, the team prepared a formal report for the Colorado legislature (Siegel 6 October 1999).

Based on the report findings, the legislature passed House Bill 99-1254 directing the Legislative Council staff to conduct an official study of the assessment, collection, and distribution of criminal restitution. Again, a restitution working group was convened and representative stakeholders were invited to participate (Ibid).

The resulting official report provided restitution advocates with the means to pass House Bill 00-1169: A Bill for an Act Concerning Restitution in Criminal Cases, and Making an Appropriation in Connection therewith in April, 2000. In its declaration of support for victims' rights to restitution and the moral and legal obligation of offenders to pay, Bill 1169 provides a broad reaching framework in which criminal justice professionals can effectively manage restitution, including the following provisions relating to presentence investigation, orders of restitution from both adult and juvenile offenders, procedures for collection and for failure to pay, and restitution as a condition of parole:

Presentence or probation investigation. Following a verdict of guilty or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the probation officer shall make an investigation and written report to the court before the imposition of sentence. A victim impact statement shall be made in every case.

Assessment of restitution. Requires every order of conviction for a felony, misdemeanor, or petty or traffic misdemeanor offense to include an order for restitution or a specific finding that there is no victim with a pecuniary loss. The bill establishes that restitution orders are:

Juvenile. The Bill removes the discretion of a court to not order restitution by a juvenile if to do so would cause serious hardship or injustice. The Bill also increases the amount for which a parent or legal guardian may be liable for restitution to $25,000.

Collections investigator. The Bill appropriates funds and establishes procedures for the collections investigator--a person employed by the judicial department whose primary responsibility is to administer, enforce, and collect on court orders or judgments entered with respect to fines, fees, and restitution.

Procedures for failures to pay. Whenever a defendant is five or more days late with a payment, the Bill authorizes:

Restitution as a condition of parole. The Bill authorizes intermediate sanctions for persons on parole who fail to pay restitution, including:

Direct Order Collections in Corrections

The Victim Services and Restitution Branch (VSRB) of the California Department of Corrections (CDC) collects restitution from inmates to be paid directly to victims of all crimes where restitution is warranted. Victims of property crime apply for restitution through this program. Protocols have been established within VSRB to identify and locate inmates, to contact the institution housing the inmate, and to activate collections. Collections on direct orders are calculated at 20 percent or the balance owed, whichever is less, from all wages from prison industry and trust account deposits. An additional administrative fee of two percent is added to the withdrawal. Direct orders of restitution to victims are disbursed within sixty days of receipt. All outstanding restitution fines and direct orders are paid in full before a parolee may transfer his/or her parole term out of state.

Promising Practices

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2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 5.2
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