Types of Programs and Services

The prevalence of the three major types of restitution -- monetary restitution, community service, and direct service to victims -- is shown in Table 6. Community service is most common, especially among programs dealing with adults only. Juvenile programs are more likely to require offenders to make monetary or financial restitution. One reason for this difference may be the history of juvenile restitution programming, which includes lengthy Federal involvement and multiple opportunities for training. In the adult field, community service has always been emphasized over financial restitution, possibly because it is easier: it does not require contact with victims, it does not require that the offender be placed in a paying job to earn money for restitution (nonpaying jobs are always easier to get), and monitoring requirements are greatly reduced.

Direct service to victims is the rarest form of restitution, primarily because victims generally prefer to avoid contact with offenders. Recently, however, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of victim-offender reconciliation and mediation projects in which victims meet their offenders in carefully supervised settings (Schneider and Hughes, 1991). Through these meetings, victims lose much of their fear of offenders and often work out arrangements in which the offender makes restitution by performing a service for the victim. Usually, this involves repairing property damaged by the offender; occasionally (and particularly with the elderly), it involves other services, such as lawnmowing or snow removal.

Among the programs contacted by this survey, 140 arrange for direct victim-offender contact -- a large increase over the 67 identified programs that provided for such meetings in 1986 (Schneider and Warner, 1989). As shown in Table 7, the most common purpose of such meetings is to provide a forum for the offender to apologize to the victim. However, many programs view the process as instrumental. Victim-offender contact is used by 86 programs to determine the form and amount of restitution and by 82 for victim-offender mediation. Giving victims an opportunity to ventilate their anger toward the offender in a controlled setting is seen as the intention of 62 programs.

Services provided to offenders and their victims by programs are listed in Table 8. Services to offenders are divided into those provided for financial restitution cases and those provided for community service cases. Obviously, there are cases in which the types of restitution overlap -- for example, offenders frequently are required to perform community service in addition to paying financial restitution -- and therefore services overlap as well.

For cases involving financial restitution, more than half (58.5 percent) of the programs provide offenders with assistance in finding a restitution job, and more than a third seek to develop jobs for their clients. Both figures are increases over proportions reported in 1986. However, slightly less than a third of the programs (26.5 percent) organize work crews for offenders needing employment to pay restitution. This percentage is down from previous surveys and suggests that programs are moving away from work crews as they become more successful at finding or creating jobs in the private sector.

A new and growing device for creating jobs in the community for offenders required to make financial restitution is the practice of entering into contracts for services with outside public or private agencies. For example, some programs contract to provide janitorial services, and others work with recycling programs. The contracts, usually negotiated annually, are for provision of certain services, and the jobs created are reserved for persons paying victim restitution. Although this practice has not shown up in previous surveys, about 19 percent of the programs contacted in the 1991 survey reported entering into outside contracts.

Another device for creating jobs is to use program funds (usually public) to pay offenders to perform community service. The money is then passed on to their victims, although the offenders often retain a portion of the funds to cover work-related expenses. About 21 percent of the programs provide subsidized employment; this percentage has remained constant over the years. In instances when offenders retain a portion of their wages, a greater percentage (37 percent) is kept if the client finds his or her own job than if the placement is arranged by the program (29 percent). Transportation to and from job or work sites is provided by 29 percent of the programs.

Services provided for offenders required to perform community service are also displayed in table 8. For some reason, a much higher percentage of programs provide assistance to offenders doing community service than to offenders making financial restitution. It may be that programs are simply taking the path of least resistance: community service is easier, as a rule, than restitution; therefore, more programs do it. However, community service programs tend to have higher visibility, and these programs may provide more assistance to offenders to ensure their success. It is also the case that community service placements generally must be arranged; they are a form of volunteerism and exist apart from the normal labor market.

Many restitution and community service programs provide some services to victims, although it is interesting to note that an important victim service -- psychological counseling -- is more likely to be provided for offenders than victims. The most common services provided to victims are information about their cases and assistance in assessing the amounts of their losses. More than a third of the programs -- approximately the same number that arranges for direct victim-offender contact (see above) -- arrange situations in which offenders work directly for their victims as a way to make restitution.