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Restitution and Community Service: Improving Enforcement of Court-Ordered Restitution

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1991
2 pages
This paper reviews two articles that bear upon improvements in the enforcement of court-ordered restitution and community service.
One study, "Restitution and Community Service" by Douglas McDonald, states that the lack of broad use of restitution and community service is due in part to the lack of agreement about why they should be imposed. Unanswered questions include whether the sanctions punish, rehabilitate, or deter; whether they are beneficial to defendants or serve victims; and whether they are less costly and more constructive than imprisonment. McDonald concludes that restitution and community service are punitive as long as the conditions are strictly enforced. Because of the unanswered questions and the difficulties of enforcement, however, he is unsure whether these sentencing options will endure or fade. The second article, "Improving Enforcement of Court-Ordered Restitution," examines some issues raised by McDonald. Smith, Davis, and Hillenbrand conducted a study for the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section on how restitution orders are enforced and how the orders are viewed by crime victims. The study concludes that court notification to offenders before the due date for restitution payments, along with the use of incarceration for nonpayment, can improve compliance with restitution orders.

Date Published: January 1, 1991