Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Making Offenders Pay

Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy caught a good story on the failure of our restitution sanction policies, in PA in the story but applicable anywhere. My former boss when I was working with the OK sentencing commission always said we should go into business as a private collection agency on fines and such, accepting a set percentage of the take (free entrepreneurial advice!!!), and this article shows why it might be lucrative, even if the offenders who could pay are as limited as the post and the commenters indicate. The basic problem, of course, is that you're dealing with many people with limited resources to begin with and then expecting them to pay fees and fines? The politicians love the ruse for obvious political reasons and lately have been playing those games more and more. It becomes an even bigger drain when failure to pay becomes a ground for revoking probation or parole, and then not only do the offenders not pay, we get to pay for them. If people can pay back financially, it's hard to argue why they shouldn't, but it's silly and self-deceptive to think much better than what we have right now would ever work, my former boss notwithstanding. Better to think up means of in-kind restitution that would help restore the victims in other ways and improve the community at the same time. Lord knows we have things that need done.

No comments: