Legislature May Reform Victims’ Restitution System

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The Senate Judiciary Committee this week is expected to give its approval to legislation that reforms Vermont’s system of victim restitution.

According to a report issued by State Auditor Elizabeth Ready last fall, only 13 cents of every dollar owed to victims is actually being collected. The report concludes that collecting restitution is not a high priority for any of the state agencies that are involved.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Sears says that the restitution system is broken and needs to be fixed if Vermonters are going to have confidence in the state’s criminal justice system:

(Sears) “I think it’s an important part both to make the victim feel better about what happened to them but also for the offender to learn about the victim and to make the system whole. And if we have a system in Vermont, we probably talk about our restorative justice system and in a restorative model I would think restitution would be a number one priority.”

Sears says the committee wants to have one single state agency responsible for the collection of all restitution. But Sears says it is not easy to find an agency that’s willing to take on this challenge at a time when many state

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