Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CDCR On Pace to Set Record for Collection of Victim Restitution

Relationship with Franchise Tax Board to Improve Collections

Sacramento - California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary Matthew Cate today announced CDCR is on pace to set a record for collection of victim restitution orders from inmates and parolees, due to an innovative relationship with the state’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB).

California is world-leading in the collection of restitution orders on behalf of crime victims. These collections are sent to victims and survivors of crimes as restitution. The first month of CDCR’s new partnership with FTB resulted in the collection of more than $155,000 from among the 3,100 initial cases sent to FTB.

"Thanks to the assistance of victims’ rights advocates, our ability to collect on restitution, judgments and other direct orders from the court for victims and survivors are stronger than ever here at CDCR," Secretary Cate said. "We will continue to tighten the various loopholes to ensure that a majority of every dollar earned by an inmate or a parolee with a restitution order goes to reimbursing victims and survivors for part of their loss."

The announcement came during the Department's observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The CDCR has a long history of supporting the rights of victims and survivors of violent crimes. When the Department reorganized on July 1, 2005, the Department's victims' rights advocate was elevated to an Assistant Secretary level position appointed by the Governor. Statewide, several dozen adult and juvenile facilities have planned victims' week observations and activities.

A number of reforms and changes were made since the CDCR reorganization that strengthens the Department's responsiveness to victims and survivors of violent crimes.

The most significant change occurred earlier this year when CDCR and FTB entered into an interagency agreement which states that FTB will act as an agent for the CDCR in collection of victim restitution from adult parolees and discharged adult offenders.

The Interagency Agreement, signed in December, was spurred by the passage of AB2928 earlier in 2009. Victims suffer staggering economic costs as a result of crime. This agreement encompasses over $2 billion owed to more than 100,000 victims of crime. Crime victim compensation programs reimburse victims for part of this loss.

California, already the clear national leader in victim restitution, is making a historic enhancement to the program. Until now, once adult offenders left CDCR jurisdiction, victims were left to collect restitution on their own. Now FTB will use the same collection process for adult offenders no longer under CDCR jurisdiction as they use for citizens who have underpaid taxes.

Other changes that have occurred since 2005 include: maximizing restitution collection from inmates under State and Federal laws; activating direct orders of restitutions from the courts to CDCR; initiating restitution collection within the first week an inmate is received by CDCR; establishing a victims' call center; and, extending that restitution obligation more effectively as the inmate transitions to parole.

Susan Fisher, who serves as Governor Schwarzenegger's Crime Victim Advocate, applauds CDCR efforts to date, but added that changes are still needed by other partners in the criminal justice system to best represent the needs of victims and survivors.

"Despite significant progress in providing rights and services to crime victims over the past two decades, large segments of the population are still underserved," said Fisher. "It is my hope that the increased collection of victim restitution funds will allow us to provide more services for crime victims, including those with disabilities and mental illness, and victims who are immigrants, teenagers, elderly, or live in rural areas. Every victim deserves respect, resources, restoration, and justice -- every time."

California has a rich history with criminal restitution. California was the first state in the nation to give crime victims a constitutional right to restitution from their offenders. California also is home to the nation’s first crime victim compensation program.

The state’s victim compensation program was founded in 1965 to assist residents of the State of California in obtaining compensation for the losses they suffer as a direct result of criminal acts. It has helped nearly 900,000 victims and their family members, and paid out more than $1.5 billion to eligible crime victims and those who provide services to them.

The CDCR Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) provides advocacy services as well as supports rehabilitative opportunities for offenders. Specifically, the OVSRS maintains a comprehensive victim services program and supports justice practices to ensure offender rehabilitation and accountability to victims, the community, and to themselves.

"Crime Victims' Rights Week offers us all the opportunity to recommit ourselves to ensuring that every victim is afforded his or her legal rights in our juvenile and criminal justice systems," said Sandi Menefee, Assistant Secretary for the OVSRS. "We must continue to increase our collective efforts to protect, restore, and expand crime victims' rights and services so that they apply to every victim."

The California courts have acknowledged that restitution serves to make a criminal understand that he has harmed not merely society in the abstract but also individual human beings, and that he has a responsibility to make them financially whole. Restitution has also been recognized as serving twin functions of rehabilitation of the offender and compensation to the victim.

Ms. Menefee encourages media and community partners to contact local CDCR adult and juvenile institutions for a chance to observe or participate in planned Crime Victims’ Week activities.

For more information, please visit the CDCR Victim Services website at: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/index.html.

Please see the accompanying documents on the website for local victims’ week activities as well as a fact sheet on accomplishments by the OVSRS.

Click to view FACT SHEET (PDF)