Victims of crime frequently sustain financial losses as a result of the crimes committed against them. Addressing these losses through programs such as restitution and other means of monetary assistance is an important component not only of lessening the often burdensome financial impact of crime on victims, but also of helping to create a sense of confidence that the criminal justice system is fulfilling its obligation to protect public safety. However, victims are not always aware that such programs exist.
Given that they are often in direct contact with victims of crime, corrections, probation, and parole officers can play a key role in informing victims of the supports they are entitled to, and can provide victims with clear guidelines for how to pursue restitution, compensation, or other means of financial support. In the case of restitution—where victims are repaid directly by the person who committed the crime against them—repayment establishes a sense of accountability for the person who committed the crime by creating a concrete link between the offense and the harm caused to the victim.
While restitution can help ameliorate the financial impact of crime on victims, payments can be difficult to collect because the person who committed the crime may lack sufficient resources. Setting up realistic payment schedules and capping the percentage of assets that can be collected during a given period are therefore crucial steps for supervision officers to take in order to enable successful collection. Supervision officers should also consider prioritizing restitution over other legal financial obligations, such as fines or fees for supervision, electronic monitoring, or correctional health care.