Wednesday, April 21, 2010
CDCR Partners with FTB to Collect Victim Restitution
The CDCR website features a story about its initiative to collect victim restitution fees from inmates.
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.
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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.
Yesterday, Jonathan Simon came to talk to my class about Governing Through Crime, and one of my students asked him how he saw the optimal role of the victim. An interesting discussion ensued: To what extent do we want to frame victims as passive citizens, expecting the state to act on their behalf? To what extent can we empower victims to act on their own behalf without crossing the line toward blaming them for their situation? Seems to me that, of all the victim-oriented policies, collecting restitution for them makes a lot of sense. It doesn't raise the same concerns that punitive legislation and participation in the criminal process raise. It does, however, raise some questions: Can money really make up for crime or harm? What role does class and money play in equalizing the leveling field and righting the wrong that occurred? And, finally, would a process of restorative justice (possibly fostered by CDCR after trial is over) do more for victims than monetary compensation?