The California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and the California District Attorneys Association hosted the 2010 California Restitution Summit on November 10, 2010. The event brought together victim advocates, district attorneys, defense bar, judges, parole and probation officers, local and state restitution collections officials, and other public safety stakeholders to have an open discussion about the best-practices across the state on the issue of restitution collection.

This summit was convened to find solutions to the current downward fiscal condition of the California Restitution Fund, which provides compensation to victims in the aftermath of a crime through the state Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP). The nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office and internal projections from the Department of Finance and the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board all project that the Restitution Fund will be insolvent by fiscal year 2011-12.
The fund’s fiscal condition has been at a downward trajectory over the last six years due to several factors: 1) spending and borrowing by the Legislature and Governor on non-restitution related programs, i.e. anti-gang funding, 2) restitution collections continue to remain stable or decline while 3) spending on victim compensation and benefits have increased over time.
The featured panels focused on how restitution collection and information sharing could be improved throughout the state by adopting practices and protocols that have shown to increase revenues. Many panelists suggested what changes could be made by the Legislature to increase collections as well as to create more disincentives and punishments to those offenders who continue to avoid paying court ordered fines. In fact, some of the solutions could simply be adopted by local and regional governments and would dramatically increase their collection rates.
The four panels were as followed:
Panel 1 – District Attorneys
Gary Lieberstein – District Attorney, Napa County
Vern Pierson – District Attorney, El Dorado County
Ken Ryken – Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County
Greg Totten – District Attorney – Ventura County
Steve Dippert – Restitution Specialist, Santa Clara County
Panel 2 – Chief Probation Officers
Jim Salio, San Luis Obispo County
Scott Stickney – Los Angeles County
Jerry Powers – Stanislaus County
Panel 3 – Courts/Presiding Judges
Honorable Larry Brown – Judge Sacramento County Superior Court
Honorable Lois Haight – Judge Contra Costa County Superior Court
Honorable Joe Hurley – Judge Alameda County Superior Court
Panel 4 – Collections
Matthew Cate (Moderator) – Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Margie Borjon-Miller – Administrative Office of the Courts
Liz Howard Espinosa – California State Association of Counties
Bruce Robert – San Bernardino County Collections Department
Carol Williams – Franchise Tax Board
Let us know what you think about restitution collection in your area!