The issue of restitution is increasingly being discussed within the field of elder abuse and adult protective services as more cases of financial elder abuse are handled within the criminal justice system. Restitution is a mechanism through which offenders compensate victims for losses that result from crime. There are several types of restitution:
- Financial restitution is the payment of money by the offender to the victim
- Financial-community restitution is when the offender pays money to other entities such as community programs
- Individual service is when the offender is required to perform a service for the victim such as repairing damage to the victim's personal property
- Community service, which is usually required as a condition of probation, requires the offender to perform service to the community
Restitution is usually imposed as a condition of probation but may also be ordered as a condition of parole. Some states have correctional restitution in which offenders who are sentenced to prison or detention facilities are required to participate in work programs and to set aside a portion of their wages for their victims or the state.
Although the right to receive restitution is widely recognized, a variety of problems limit the effectiveness of the existing restitution process at the state and federal levels. These include the failure of many courts to order restitution and the absence of efficient systems to ensure that restitution orders are enforced. Failure to collect from those who have been ordered to pay, and inequalities with respect to who receives restitution, further reduce the likelihood that perpetrators will be held accountable. These problems further reduce victims' incentives to participate in the criminal justice system.
To learn more about the problems associated with restitution, see:
Forgotten victims of elder financial crime and abuse: A report and recommendations (1999, 62 pp). Goldman Institute on Aging.
Justice for the forgotten victims of financial crimes. An interview with Martin Plone. nexus, a Publication for NCPEA Affiliates. September 1997. Click here to view.