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Victims' advocate says more energy should be invested in restitution programs

Aug 29, 2011

from Michael McKiernan's article on Legal Feeds:

Justice systems in the North should invest more energy in developing restitution processes that work, according to a leading Canadian victims’ advocate. 

Irvin Waller, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, was a speaker at Justice for All: A Comparison of the Crime Victims’ Rights in the U.S. and Canada, put on by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section this morning.

“We know from the social science evidence that well-organized restorative justice, which includes restitution payments, not only increases victim satisfaction compared to the normal process, but secondly actually reduces recidivism,” Waller said. “There is a real opening here. It’s win-win all around for justice at times of austerity.”

Susan Chapman of Toronto’s Green & Chercover, said judges in Canada are reticent about granting restitution orders, in part because of the historical division between criminal and civil justice. 

“There’s also the practical realty. If someone is getting four years in prison, they’re going to be hard-pressed to pay restitution,” Chapman said. 

Waller cited changes to the French justice system, which give victims standing in criminal cases to seek restitution from the accused. 

Read the whole article.

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lrea@wavecable.com
lrea@wavecable.com says:
Aug 30, 2011 05:47 PM

Thank you for posting this. Restitution is very important to crime victims. Not only should offenders pay restitution, when ordered, but the justice system should follow up to assure the monies make their way to the victims. However, as one pointed out in this article sometimes offenders do not have the ability to pay their victims because they lack employment. That's a problem. <br /> <br />But when restorative justice principles are applied in the best case scenario victims and offenders will have met, through victim offender dialogue or family group conferencing for instance, where a contractual agreement could be agreed upon. Those restitution payments could be made over time, perhaps quite a bit of time as agreed upon by the parties involved. <br /> <br />That's the beauty of restorative justice. It's balanced and it is fair. <br />

rita davis
rita davis says:
Sep 06, 2011 10:23 PM

Every state should implement this policy. Arizona has stated charging a $25 fee per person to visit a prisoner. They intend to use this money to offset a budget deficit. At least 1/2 of this money should go into the victim's fund that the criminals pay into. A crime victim such as myself receive little or no funds to help them. We were unable to find an attorney because we made too much money for free assistance. All other lawyers we contacted wanted a large retainer because the murderer was broke. They would not be able to sue later and get a large settlement. It has been 9 years, but the pain and confusion is still with us.

rita davis
rita davis says:
Sep 08, 2011 09:47 PM

Rita, I think you are right that victims should receive restitution and ideally those monies would be paid by the offender. By the offender paying restitution directly there is a real connection between the injury caused by the offender and &quot;paying back&quot; or restoring the victim as much as possible. <br /> <br />That direct process, which reflects restorative justice, is optimal. I am aware of the new proposed Arizona law which charges $25.00 to the offender's family to allow them to visit an inmate (family member)inside prison. I think this is a wasteful proposition and non-sensical one at that. <br /> <br />Offenders should pay restitution to their victims but that process can best be decided through a contractual agreement between victim and offender. I think that would have worked, perhaps, in your case. <br /> <br />I am sorry you were unable to receive restitution. This is where the justice system breaks down and fails crime victims like yourself. <br /> <br />Lisa Rea <br />Rea Consulting <br />Victims-Driven Restorative Justice <br />U.S.

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