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Chapter 5 Financial Assistance for Victims of Crime
(Section 2 Supplement)


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:

  • Client information such as number of offenders, number of victims, demographic data on each, and types of crime committed/experienced which resulted in restitution.

  • Information on the amount of restitution requested by the victim, the amount ordered by the court or paroling authority, the amount paid by the offender or collected by the agency, the amount in arrears, and the amount disbursed to the victim.

  • Data on payment methods, types of offender employment including community service, number of successful program completions, and rates of paid and unpaid restitution.

Of those agencies surveyed, only 16 percent responded that they routinely monitored victim satisfaction.

Surveys that address victim satisfaction with the restitution process within any given agency are essential. In the interest of greater understanding of victims' needs and the improvement of victim services, Community Corrections in Stearns County, Minnesota, sends out a "Crime Victim Satisfaction with Restitution Services" survey that asks victims to rate:

  • The degree to which they were treated respectfully by the department of community corrections.

  • The efforts the probation officer made to assist them in getting restitution.

  • The degree to which their needs were met concerning restitution.

  • Their satisfaction with the amount of help received related to the need for restitution.

  • Their satisfaction with services in general.

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.

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Chapter 5 Financial Assistance for Victims of Crime June 2002
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