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   250 Chapter 10 1  RESTITUTION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: THE CASE FOR COLLABORATION The process of restitution as it progresses through the justice system from arrest to post-supervision is extremely complex. For those jurisdictions that are actively looking at improving their restitution management, the process can initially seem rather daunting. Follow-up interviews  with survey respondents and other jurisdiction personnel who are involved in the revamping of their jurisdictional policies and procedures revealed a common thread among jurisdictions nationwide, namely that in order to improve restitution management and collection, the entire system of restitution, along with the underlying authority -- statutory and otherwise -- had to be analyzed and understood before any constructive efforts could even be suggested. Over and over, respondents mentioned the need for interagency collaboration and cooperation -- in those jurisdictions had taken significant steps in that direction, justice system personnel described looking at the system from the bottom up. From restitution legislation to court rules, from turf  wars to interagency agreements, from concern for victims’ rights to insistence upon accountability of offenders, those people who are truly committed to making restitution work are looking at it all. COORDINATED INTERAGENCY APPROACH   A recent study promotes the concept of the coordinated interagency approach to restitution management (Burnley & Murray, 1997). This approach encompasses six essential goals  which require serious attention in any attempt to improve restitution management. These six goals are: ã Victim Involvement . Victim involvement can be as varied as victims themselves. Whether this means having input into a plea agreement or a face-to-face meeting with an offender in a mediated setting, victims should have access to appropriate and meaningful involvement. 1  Author: Morna Murray   251 ã Effective Communication and Cooperation . Jurisdictions vary widely as to the level of communication that exists between justice system agencies. If restitution is to be successful, however, effective communication and cooperation are essential because literally every agency is involved at some point throughout the process. Information sharing must be routine. ã Clear Delineation of Restitution Roles . As restitution necessarily involves so many tasks, it is crucial that all players understand their roles and who is doing what. If not, it is inevitable that there will be duplication of effort or worse -- a failure of any one agency to take responsibility for a particular task, assuming that someone else is taking care of it, (e.g., ongoing communication with victims). ã Streamlining of Restitution Tasks . Many jurisdictions indicated that multiple agencies had responsibility for tasks such as the preparation of victim impact statements, or the monitoring of the payment of restitution. At the root of this issue is the need for a jurisdiction to clearly define and delineate the multiple roles that are involved in the restitution process and to assign these roles clearly and succinctly to that agency or individual most suited to the task. ã Routine Information Flow . This is essential throughout the process. For example, restitution advocates or other victim liaisons need current information regarding payment progression and/or defaults. Data on restitution management and collection should be routinely circulated among criminal and juvenile justice agencies. Ideally, all justice system agencies involved in the management of restitution should define and agree upon a standardized method for the routine and regular exchange of information.   252 ã Participant Involvement and Accountability . This applies to all parties to the process--victims, offenders, and all justice system personnel and/or appropriate and involved personnel outside the justice system. These principles outline the goals that are essential to the coordinated and collaborative approach to restitution management within a jurisdiction’s justice system community. The coordinated approach addresses the problems raised by this multitask, multiagency, multilevel remedy by focusing on restitution as a process . In Chapter 2 of this Compendium, the process of restitution was examined in light of the functions and roles of all justice system agencies involved. In any meaningful attempt to improve a jurisdiction’s approach to restitution management, all key justice system players need to be involved. Determining that restitution is a priority  for all justice system personnel also is essential for concrete improvement. Jim Sinclair, Assistant Director of the Department of Community Supervision and Corrections in Tarrant County, Texas, says: . . .It is not so much focusing on collecting the money as your legal mandate or because it is an order of the court, but to get your staff to buy into the fact that for victims and survivors, restitution has an incredibly powerful symbolic value. Sometimes it is the only  way that they have an inkling of hope that the offender is being held accountable (Sinclair, 1999). Several questions on the survey addressed this issue of interagency collaboration and the priority attached to restitution. In response to whether restitution is a stated top priority within  your jurisdiction, 64% of the respondents answered “yes” and 38% responded “no.” Another question asked whether the jurisdiction utilized written policy or protocol guidelines regarding restitution management. Only 46% of the respondents answered that written policy or protocol guidelines were used; 54% indicated that such guidelines did not exist. Finally, in response to the question, Has your agency established policies or practices for interagency communication and   253 coordination?, only 36% of the respondents answered in the affirmative, and a clear majority of 64% indicated that no such policies or practices had been established. In interviews with strong restitution advocates within all areas of the justice system, a clear picture has emerged. Several key jurisdictions and states are moving from looking at restitution management as a long list of interrelated tasks to looking at restitution management as a process that involves a plethora of factors, including: ã Statutory as well as constitutional amendment authority and structure. ã Involvement of all key players ã Strong judicial support. ã Sufficient funding for and agency commitment to staff training ã Restitution consistently designated as a top agency and jurisdictional priority ã Identified and streamlined restitution processes within a jurisdiction or state PROGRAM EXAMPLES  Linda Eichenbaum, Chief of Adult Probation and Parole in Alexandria, Virginia, cites coordination of several agencies with a common philosophy as one of the strongest aspects of the restitution program in the city of Alexandria. Interviews with key personnel in this jurisdiction (prosecution, victim/witness, judiciary, court collections, probation) illustrated the fact that all share a common respect and appreciation for the role each plays in the restitution process and that they have also established clear and routine procedures for sharing all information regarding restitution. All key department heads share a common provictim orientation to the justice system. Interviews with victims indicate that victim satisfaction is very high in the jurisdiction. Establishing restitution as a system-wide priority and taking the concrete steps necessary to effect tangible change is not always as conflict-free as it appears to be in Alexandria, Virginia. Many states are involved in that process right now and the stories they tell are extremely enlightening with regard to the challenging complexities involved in any systemic overhaul to the management of restitution. Although the coordinated approach to restitution management addresses the issues regarding daily management of restitution within the justice system, the big
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