Sacramento - Today, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary James E. Tilton announced that half of all money received by inmates with court-ordered restitution - either earned or sent to them by others - will be sent to victims and survivors of violent crimes as restitution.
"I am pleased to announce that the rights of victims and survivors to collect on restitution, judgments and other direct orders from the court are stronger than ever here at CDCR - thanks to the assistance of victims' rights advocates," Secretary Tilton said. "Our staff has closed all the loopholes so that 50 cents of every dollar earned by an inmate with a restitution order - or sent to an inmate by family and others - is collected on behalf of victims and survivors of the perpetrator's violent crimes."
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 and reports directly to the Secretary. 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.
Those changes include: maximizing restitution collection from inmates under State and Federal laws; activating direct orders of restitutions from the courts to CDCR; initiating restitution collection with the first week an inmate is received by CDCR; establishing a victims call center; and, extending that restitution obligation more effective 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."
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 criminal justice system," 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."
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 website at www.cdcr.ca.gov and click on the "Victims" link. Please see the accompanying documents on the website for local victim week activities as well as a fact sheet on accomplishments by the OVSRS.