From the Justice Center
The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently issued a publication on why victims and children often do not receive restitution and support they are owed. Repaying Debts is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive guide that details how policy-makers can increase financial accountability among people leaving correctional facilities, improve rates of child support collection and victim restitution, and make individuals’ transition from prisons and jails to the community safe and successfully.
People released from prisons and jails typically must make payments to a host of agencies, including probation departments, courts, attorney generals’ offices, and child support enforcement offices. While coordinated collections efforts among these agencies could increase rates of repayment to victims, families, and criminal justice agencies, there is rarely a single agency tracking all of an individual’s court-ordered debts and facilitating payment.
An average of $178 million per state in court costs, fines, fees and restitution has gone uncollected. Failure to pay – even by those trying in good faith to repay debts – may result in individuals’ reincarceration, during which time those owed money are not being paid and taxpayers are footing the bill for their corrections costs.
The report recommends very specific strategies to improve how people released from prisons and jails meet their court-ordered financial obligations. It also provides examples from states that have successfully implemented some aspect of these strategies. The report and summary of its findings and recommendations can be downloaded by clicking here.