Hearing Friday on Bill to Halt Restitution Fines for Juvenile Crime
Thursday, August 31, 2023
A bill will be heard in the State Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow that would stop requiring youths convicted of a crime to pay restitution, and change how victims are made whole.
Assembly Bill 1186 would instead make those crime survivors eligible for financial assistance through the California Victims Compensation Board.
The bill's author, Assemblymember Mia Bonta - D-Alameda - said the current system is broken, because counties have only been able to collect on 20% of the restitution orders since 2010.
"Crime survivors are caught in a cycle of uncertainty of being made whole," said Bonta. "And the youths who have been ordered to pay restitution are impacted with long-standing debt and financial harm - that they don't pay back, and are caught in a cycle of debt."
Youths would still be held accountable - and could be ordered to take part in restorative-justice conferences or programs that involve community service, skill-building programs, and job opportunities.
The California District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, worrying that some victims would lose access to restitution because not all crimes qualify via the Victims Compensation Board.
LaNaisha Edwards lost two brothers to gun violence, and now works as a member engagement associate with the nonprofit Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.
She said she supports the bill because victims would get paid faster and the youths can get help to change their ways.
"When youths are transitioning back into the world, they are not burdened," said Edwards, "but we're actually able to support them to get on track so they don't keep reoffending."
Supporters estimate implementation would cost the state $12.4 million a year, but will save counties millions in collection costs.
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