- Associated Press - Sunday, March 18, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) - The state of Hawaii has increased its collection of funds that inmates and parolees owe to their crime victims, creating a model experts say other states should follow.

The state collected about 70 percent more from the offenders and made 40 percent more disbursements to victims from 2013 to 2016, mostly by focusing on improvements in policy, data collection and interagency coordination, according to the Justice Center for the Council of State Governments.

Hawaii in fiscal year 2016 collected nearly $367,000 from inmates and parolees, compared with $216,744 in 2013, according to the Justice Center data.

Tallies for 2017, though not part of the Justice Center analysis, show about $587,000 was collected.

The collection amounts do not include payments made by probationers - criminal offenders whose initial sentences include probation.

The agenda for a National Association of Attorneys General conference last month in Washington D.C., noted Hawaii had developed a national model for improving management of victim restitution, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

“I love what they’re doing in Hawaii, and I hope that a lot of us can replicate that,” said Darlene Hutchinson, director of the federal Office for Victims of Crime.

“When people say you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, I’ll tell them to go to Hawaii because look at the (restitution results),” said Anne Seymour, national crime victim advocate and consultant to Pew Charitable Trusts. “They’re just amazing.”

Both women made those statements during a panel discussion at the conference.

The restitution totals analyzed by the center did not include about $1.2 million collected since 2012 via 10 large one-time payments ranging from $11,470 to $353,064. That money, paid mostly in theft and money-laundering cases, was excluded so the restitution data would show trends with regular payments.

The number of restitution payments from inmates and parolees also has been on the rise, hitting nearly 2,500 in 2016, up from 1,771 in 2013, according to the Justice Center. In 2010, only 253 payments were made.

Marc Pelka, deputy director of state initiatives for the New York-based Justice Center, said many states lack the depth of data Hawaii has for its restitution program, making comparisons with other states difficult. In compiling data, some states don’t even separate restitution amounts from fines and other types of penalties.

Hawaii’s success, however, could inspire other states to take similar action, Pelka said.

“It’s given a whole new approach to talking about victim restitution in a way that is much more positive,” he said.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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