Victim Service Office Reports 25 Percent Improvement in Collections
HELENA – Numbers released this week by the Office of Victim Services and Restorative Justice show that collections for victims have improved by more than 25 percent since last year.
From July 1 to November 30 of this year, the OVS collected payments worth $97,410.20. During the same period in 2001, the total was $76,728.71.
“It’s especially exciting since 2001 was already a record-breaking year,” Matthew Dale, director of the Office of Victim Services and Restorative Justice said. “The program is only going to continue to grow and make more funds available for victims of crime.”
The Office of Victim Services and Restorative Justice can pursue funds three ways:
- Restitution – As part of his or her sentence, an offender may be required to pay restitution to the victim. The victim may then be able to repay funds he or she received through the Crime Victim Compensation program and replenish the fund.
- Prison earnings – If the offender is sentenced to prison, the Office of Victim Services may be able to collect a portion of his or her prison earnings.
- Civil suit – If a victim receives compensation as part of a civil settlement, he or she may repay funds previously paid out of the Crime Victims Compensation fund and that in turn makes more funds available.
Dale said the improvement is the product of a fully staffed program.
“This is very much a ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ situation,” Dale said. He said restitution officers pursue collections through repeated contacts with clerks of court, probation officers and others. “You want to keep up pressure on the offender, and we now have the staff to do that.”
Dale said collections have also benefited from the increased visibility the office has received since Attorney General Mike McGrath attached the OVS to the Attorney General’s Office in 2001.