With a team of 85 investigators, Colorado is aggressively collecting restitution from criminals, says the Denver Post. The effort is drawing national praise. The goal is to bring financial and emotional support to people whose lives were turned upside down by lawbreakers. In fiscal 2004, the state collected $20.5 million in restitution. Mary Lou Leary of the Washington-based National Center for Victims of Crime said the Colorado system is a model because of its collections investigators whose sole duty is to obtain restitution for victims. Colorado has dismissed the notion that “you can’t get blood from a stone,” she said.
The restitution can help pay medical expenses or property damage and help heal emotional scars by sending a message to victims that the community holds the offender responsible. If the perpetrator fails pay, earnings and accounts can be garnished, liens placed on property, tax refunds and lottery winnings intercepted, driver’s licenses suspended, probation revoked, and arrests made. During fiscal 2004, money collected from criminal defendants in Colorado reached a record $85.3 million, which includes the restitution amount of $20.5 million.