By National Center for Victims of Crime
October 17, 2007
The National Center for Victims of Crime hailed Tuesdays passage of legislation to improve the collection of restitution owed to federal crime victims as part of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill. The legislation was attached to the bill through an amendment offered by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
The legislation would amend provisions of the federal Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996, providing new tools for officials at the U.S. Department of Justice to collect monies owed to crime victims by convicted offenders. A series of GAO reports from 2001 through 2005 highlighted significant problems in the collection of victim restitution. An estimated $46 billion in federal criminal debt remains uncollected, most of which is restitution owed to crime victims.
This legislation will make a real difference in the lives of countless federal crime victims, said Mary Lou Leary, executive director for the National Center for Victims of Crime. Senators Dorgan and Grassley have proven their commitment to bring justice to crime victims by ensuring that when offenders are ordered to pay for their wrongdoing, somebody collects on that bill.
Some of the most heartbreaking restitution cases, particularly prevalent at the federal level, involve elderly victims who have lost their life savings to fraud. The crime robs them not only of their money, but their sense of security and even their ability to remain independent and live in their own home. Unpaid restitution directly affects the ability of those victims to rebuild their lives.
The Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill now moves to a House-Senate conference committee for consideration.