Location:
CRIME VICTIMS;

OLR Research Report


January 30, 2009

 

2009-R-0051

RESTITUTION FEES IN CONNECTICUT

By: Jillian Redding, Legislative Fellow

You want to know (1) the amount of restitution fees the state collected for crime victims between 2004 – 2009, (2) the number of crime victims paid such fees, and (3) the number of crime victims who were not paid and the reasons why.

SUMMARY

By law, a judge may order a defendant to pay restitution to a victim of his or her crime. The defendant must pay the restitution to the Judicial Branch's Court Support Services Division (CSSD), which disburses the funds to the victim. If CSSD cannot locate the victim within five years, the money is transferred to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (CICF). This fund provides financial assistance to crime victims.

The state collected $32 million in restitution fees between 2004 - 2009, an average of $6.4 million per fiscal year. Over the same period, it disbursed $32.4 million, an average of $6.48 million per year. It made an average of 22,800 disbursements per year, with an average of 11,020 cases closed at the end of each year with a balance. The cases with a remaining balance indicate that a defendant has failed to pay the restitution to the CSSD.

The CSSD does not have a record of the number of victims who received or did not receive restitution fees. The division's records show only the amounts collected, disbursed, and remaining.

This report focuses on amounts collected from criminal adult offenders, rather than the juvenile offenders, for two reasons. The juvenile restitution system was placed within the CSSD five years ago and has not addressed the issue of transferring money to the CICF. Also the juvenile system does not have computerized records of the number of disbursements per year. Thus, complete records are not readily available. The state collected $328,000 in juvenile restitution over the past five years. Over the same period, it disbursed $328,000 to juvenile crime victims.

IMPOSING RESTITUTION FEES

By law, a judge must order restitution to be paid to a crime victim if several criteria are met. First, the defendant must be convicted of a crime that resulted in injury to a person or damage to or loss of property. Second, the victim must request the financial restitution. Third, the court must find that the victim actually suffered injury or property damage or loss as a result of the crime the defendant committed. The court has the discretion to determine an appropriate restitution amount, and must take into consideration:

1. the offender's financial resources and the burden restitution will place on the offender's other obligations;

2. the offender's ability to pay based on installments or other conditions;

3. the rehabilitative effect that restitution and the method of payment will have on the offender; and

4. other circumstances, including the financial burden and impact on the victim, that the court determines make the terms of restitution appropriate (CGS 53a-28(c)(3)(A)-(D)).

The court must specify on the record its findings from the above factors. It has the discretion to forego restitution if it finds that an appropriate restitution is indeterminable based on the defendant's current financial resources and inability to pay. The court must base the restitution amount on easily ascertainable damages for injury or loss of property, the victim's actual medical costs to treat personal injuries, and loss of wages resulting from the crime. Restitution amounts may not be based on mental anguish, pain and suffering, or other intangible loss (CGS 53a-28(c)(3)).

AMOUNTS PAID TO THE STATE

The defendant pays the restitution amount to the Judicial Branch's CSSD and CSSD disburses it to the victim. Table 1 shows the amounts CSSD collected over the past five years for adult offenders.

Table 1: Amount of Restitution Fees Collected and Disbursed by the State, FY 2004 – 2009

FY

Year

Amount of Restitution Collected By the State

Amount of Restitution Disbursements

Number of Restitution Disbursements

Number of Cases Closed with Balance Due

2004-2005

$6,400,000.00

$6,300,000.00

22,000

1,100

2005-2006

6,000,000.00

6,000,000.00

23,000

1,100

2006-2007

7,300,000.00

6,900,000.00

23,000

1,100

2007-2008

6,300,000.00

6,400,000.00

23,000

1,100

2008-2009

6,000,000.00

6,800,000.00

23,000

1,200

TOTAL

32,000,000.00

32,400,000.00

114,000

5,600

Source: John Brooks, Director of Restitution and Fiscal Administration, Court Support Services Division.

According to the Director of Restitution and Fiscal Administration, John Brooks, CSSD's records do not indicate the number of victims paid, only amounts paid and number of disbursements made per year. A victim will not receive a disbursement if the CSSD is unable to locate him or her within five years. According to Mr. Brooks, the number of disbursements does not equal the number of victims in certain cases because there may be multiple victims and one defendant in a single criminal case. Also, a single victim may receive numerous disbursements over the course of a fiscal year under a judicial order.

AMOUNTS TRANSFERRED TO THE CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION FUND

State law authorizes any restitution amounts to be transferred to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund from the CSSD when CSSD cannot locate the crime victim within five years of the restitution payment (CGS 54-215). This program was instituted in 2003. This fund provides financial assistance to crime victims for expenses related to medical, dental, and counseling services and lost wages. Table 2 shows the transfers from CSSD to the fund over the past six years.

Table 2: Amounts Transferred from the State to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, 2003 — 2009

Fiscal Year

Amount Transferred

2003-2004

$95,690.20

2004-2005

60,529.92

2005-2006

3,663.34

2006-2007

143,463.56

2007-2008

38,851.03

2008-2009

129,264.78

TOTAL

471,462.83

Source: James Morgan, Program Manager, Office of Victim Services.

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