Lt. Governor Chin recently attended “The Hawaii Experience: Improving Restitution Management, Helping Victims Recover” training and welcomed out-of-state representatives from Victim Compensation/Restitution programs and local stakeholders on Hawaii’s Restitution Management. The visiting participants were from California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

Lt. Gov. Chin Speaking to groupLt. Gov. Chin speaking to groupGroup Shaka Photo

Here are his remarks:

This extensive training is to learn how we can become better advocates for victims and improve Restitution Management.

State and local governments can improve the management of victim restitution to help both those individuals, ordered to pay restitution bring down their obligation, and victims receive support to address their financial needs following crime.

The Hawaii Crime Victims Compensation Commission (CVCC) dramatically increased its collection of funds that inmates and parolees owe to their crime victims.

With help from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, our CVCC developed a new database that enabled the people who manage collections to easily monitor payments and other data then share the information with the involved agencies.

From 2013 to 2016, the state collected about 70 percent more from the offenders and made 40 percent more disbursements to victims.

The turnaround was accomplished by focusing on improving policy, data collection and inter-agency coordination. The increase was so amazing that it was the focus of a panel discussion at a meeting this past February at the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C. The conference agenda noted that Hawaii had developed a national model for improving management of victim restitution.

I was asked how my experience as a prosecutor informed my approach to restitution from a state administrative and policy level?

• Philosophical – Belief that the criminal justice system should both help make victims be more whole after experiencing crime and enable people convicted of crime to demonstrate to themselves, the victim, and the community that they are atoning for crime. 
• Structural changes — In 2003, the Hawaii CVCC office began managing the collection of restitution among people in prison and on parole supervision and disbursing the collections to victims. 
• Policy change — In 2012, legislation was enacted as part of Hawaii’s justice reinvestment approach to require that 25 percent of wages earned or deposits into inmate accounts are deducted for people in prison who owe restitution. 
• Budget — The same year, as part of Hawaii’s justice reinvestment approach, reinvested in data system improvements to help the compensation program carry out collections and disbursements. Also, local service positions to provide advocates to help victims with safety planning, restitution, and compensation. 
• State and local leadership and workforce development — Department of Public Safety Director instituted policy change to apply collection policy to work furlough, parole board chair tracks restitution collection and planning, parole supervision directs parole agents to track restitution collections. Training sessions have been held for corrections and parole agents.

There’s much we can learn from each other, much we can share. By discussing and continuing to improve Hawaii’s model on restitution, we hope more states will generate improvements and highlight their own accomplishments.