With its October check of $445,393, the California Department of Corrections now has contributed more than $10 million to the State Board of Control Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
"So far this year our monthly collections average just under a half million dollars," said CDC Director James H. Gomez. "Although the money can't erase the devastating impact of a crime on its victims," said Gomez, "it can help with the very real costs of medical care, counseling and emergency expenses."
Inmates with court-ordered restitution fines must contribute 22 percent of all money they receive, regardless of the source. The department automatically deducts the amount from the inmates' trust account deposits. Twenty percent goes to the Board of Control; the remaining 2 percent covers CDC administrative costs.
When Corrections first automated its fine collection system five years ago, only inmate wages were subject to deduction. A law change in December 1995 made it possible to collect a portion of all money deposited in an inmate's account, such as gifts from family members or friends. With that change, monthly collections jumped to the $.5 million mark.
"We can do better," said Gomez. "Fewer than half our inmates are paying restitution. I think it should be 100 percent."
Corrections staff are working diligently on that goal.
"We are reaching out to district attorneys, chief probation officers and judges," said Gomez. "We want everyone in the criminal justice system to realize that we have the laws and the means to hold every inmate financially accountable for his or her criminal actions."