What Is Criminal Restitution?
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see More Definitions for restitution. See the full definition for restitution in the English Language Learners Dictionary. Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with restitution. Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for restitution. Spanish Central: Translation of restitution. Nglish: Translation of restitution for Spanish Speakers. What made you want to look up restitution?

Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Getting a handle on some usage advice. Some parents can act like animals or machines.

You all would not have guessed some of these. RELATED WORDS refund , reparation , reimbursement , rebate , redress , indemnity , payment , restoration , return , quittance , indemnification , reprisal , satisfaction , amends , recompense , dues , requital , remuneration. Nearby words resting , resting cell , resting place , resting tidal volume , restitute , restitution , restive , restively , restless , restless cavy , restless legs syndrome.

See redress. A Wanderer in Paris E. However, legislation mandating privatization may not be necessary. When victims cannot expect to collect restitution, their incentives to report crimes, let alone participate in or pay for investigation, pursuit, and prosecution, are very weak. In other words, when victims have private property rights to restitution, they have incentives to invest in claiming what is due. Consider the issue of deterrence, for example. Of course, this expected price is not the actual sentence given to convicted criminals, or even the portion of that sentence served e.

A rough approximation of this calculation can be made for some crimes using Florida data, assuming that the relevant punishment is imprisonment e. Table 1 summarizes these calculations for robbery and burglary. Violent crimes against persons have relatively high expected penalties compared to those in Table 1, although they also do not appear to be proportional to the harms done: a murderer had an expected sentence of 2.

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On the other hand, criminals engaged in theft in could expect about 4. Clearly, the expected prices of most crimes are very low by any standard. Motor vehicle thefts are likely to be reported because victims expect to recover their losses through private insurance, and the insurance companies require that the theft be reported. When an expected insurance payment is not forthcoming, the primary expected benefit that a victim anticipates from cooperating with police and prosecutors is that the criminal will be punished. But given low clearance rates, early release programs, plea bargaining that reduces sentences, and so on, such expectations are not very strong.

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Furthermore, any hope that cooperating with police and prosecutors will protect the victim or others from the same criminal is a false one. After all, the actual periods of incapacitation are apparently not sufficient to deter most criminals from further crimes: roughly 70 percent of the offenders released from prison are rearrested for committing another crime.

The victim has to fend for himself every step of the way. Many of the costs that victims must bear are dependent on the rest of the criminal justice system. For instance, victims can lose wages as they endure seemingly endless delays and continuances due to the huge caseloads that prosecutors and the courts have. The victim is a piece of evidence. If restitution were to become the primary goal of criminal justice, much stronger incentives for greater victim reporting and cooperation in prosecution would obviously arise, thus increasing the certainty of punishment and generating greater deterrence.

If there was a right to negotiate and arrange to collect restitution in conjunction with or before criminal prosecution takes place, or even in the absence of criminal prosecution, as in Japan and France see discussion below , incentives for victims to pursue criminals would obviously be much stronger. But a focus on restitution would also lead to investments that would increase the probability of arrest, prosecution, and effective punishment.

Private security is relatively effective at protecting property. Thus, private security is the second fastest growing industry in the U.

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There are almost three times as many private security personnel as there are public police in the U. Insurance investigators do provide investigative services under some circumstances when the victim has insurance e. Furthermore, internal security organizations investigate most employee crimes for many business enterprises, partly in reflection of the very low priority public police put on such crime. Similarly, the private bail-bonding system relies on private bounty hunters today. However, by focusing on restitution for victims, the potential scope for private investigation and pursuit of criminals would expand considerably.

As with any private property right, the right to restitution should be transferable. Victims could offer bounties or rewards, but a more likely scenario in modern America would be, in effect, the sale of the right to collect a particular fine. If the right to restitution is a marketable claim for a victim, such as it was in medieval Iceland, then it can be sold to someone willing to pursue the offender. Specialized firms thief-takers, bounty hunters could arise to pursue criminals and collect fines.

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The public prosecutors supposedly represent victims, but they clearly do not. You either have private attorney to assist the state in prosecuting [the accused] … or he just does not get prosecuted. Private prosecution is actually possible in the United States in a limited way. But why, for instance, should a victim not be allowed to pursue prosecution without approval, even when the district attorney does not want to? Most victims do not want to invest the time and effort it takes to cooperate with police and prosecutors, of course, so why would they invest money on top of that time and effort?

Perhaps to increase the probability of successful prosecution and the severity of the resulting sentence. Revenge may be a strong motive, and the fact that some private attorneys are occasionally employed suggests that it is a sufficient motive for some victims, but we can not anticipate large investments in private prosecution without supplementing its costs or increasing its potential benefits.

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A restitution-based system would effectively turn crimes with victims into intentional torts, where the victim has strong incentives to pursue prosecution in order to collect damages. For instance, in Japan, mediated negotiations between the victim and the offender over the appropriate restitution actually occurs before criminal prosecution, and in a very significant way it substitutes for such prosecution, as explained above.

If the negotiations are successful, actual public prosecution may be waved entirely, or may involve a summary procedure resulting in only moderate additional punishment. Similarly, in France, a crime victim has the right to file a civil claim against the accused, but this claim can be filed in a criminal court and considered at the same time as the criminal case is being prosecuted by a public prosecutor. Furthermore, the civil suit can be filed even before the filing of a criminal proceedings. Encouraging private prosecution through establishment of a restitution- based program should substantially increase the probability of prosecution, as victims will have much stronger incentives to pursue a case than public prosecutors do.

Fewer cases will be dismissed, and fewer crimes will be forgiven by prosecutors through plea bargaining. This does not mean that bargains will not be struck to avoid the costs of a trial, however, and forgiveness of crimes might also arise, but it will be the victim who grants the pardon, not a prosecutor or judge.

Indeed, restitution should include both payments for the costs that the crime has inflicted on victims and the cost of collecting the restitution, including the cost of prosecution and post- prosecution supervision, as explained below , and this creates strong incentives for the guilty criminal to bargain with the victim in order to avoid the higher restitution payments that will be required after a trial.

Court crowding is a major factor in limiting the deterrent effect of the probability of convictions. The private sector has responded to the impact of civil court crowding with a rapidly expanding system of private alternatives such as arbitration, mediation, and the new for-profit court firms. Civil liberty concerns about private judges mandating prison sentences and other forms of punishment will probably prevent the development of any formal private sector criminal courts.

Informally, of course, sanctions including restitution are being imposed within business firms, and by various other groups of private citizens. Formal private courts would probably move into criminal justice very quickly if the system was refocused on restitution. The issues of criminal law would be determination of damage payments, at least for most crimes. Deciding damage awards is a frequent function of private arbitrators and mediators.

In Japan, for instance, restitution awards are determined through mediation before criminals ever go to court, and if this mediation is successful the criminal trial is a brief summary proceeding.

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Furthermore, the traditional outcome of mediation is the establishment of a contract, so mediation or arbitration, for that matter between a victim and offender can produce a legally binding contract that specifies the amount of debt and how it should be paid. Contract issues are regularly handled by private mediators and arbitrators today. Several states have laws urging judges to sentence criminals to restitution, leading to a number of experimental programs. Consider the restitution experiment in Tucson:.

With the approval of the Pima County, Arizona prosecutor, he agreed not only to return the TV, but also to paint her house, mow her lawn, and drive her to the doctor for her weekly checkup.

By doing so he avoided a jail sentence, and saved Tucson area taxpayers several thousand dollars. This example makes three important points here. First, even though such restitution arrangements are sanctioned by public prosecutors and courts, some have found it desirable to produce private restitution contracts negotiated between the offender and the victim.


Clearly, the expected prices of most crimes are very low by any standard. Richard D. However, the probation officer may also request this information from you. In some cases, a victim may also wish to file a civil action or file in small claims court against a defendant to recoup losses caused by the crime. How You May Feel. Criminal restitution is imposed in a manner conveying moral condemnation, and pursuant to statutes that reveal condemnatory intent. Massoglia, Incarceration as Exposure , supra , 60, 66—

In these cases, the prosecutor and court become an arbitrator-mediator, clearly a service that can be privatized, as noted above. Second, restitution need not be a monetary payment. If the only restitution option is a monetary fine, criminals may be judgment proof. However, restitution should allow for working off the fine, either by working directly for the victim or by selling labor services, perhaps in a prison industries environment.

Third, restitution is a relatively efficient form of punishment. Restitution requires far fewer resources. Some offenders may require close supervision in prison-like work places to ensure payment, but the prisoners produce marketable goods and services to pay off their debts, including the cost of supervising them to collect the debt.

If victims perceive little risk that a debtor will renege, they may allow continuation of a trade so the criminal can make periodic payments, or a contract may specify work to be done for the victim, as in the Tucson example. Both may be rare, of course although they apparently are not in Japan.