A Houston Press investigation found that more than 90 percent of the 5,133 parolees across Texas who have been successfully discharged in the last five years still owe their victims court-ordered restitution. “I’m really fed up with seeing major stories in the newspapers where defendants are court-ordered to pay restitution,” says Andy Kahan, Houston’s crime victims advocate. “I knew that sounded good on the news, but the chances of them paying their restitution was slim to none. I had a better chance of growing my hair back than victims had of getting what was owed to them.”
Over the last two years, more than $928,400 in restitution was never paid and that the state parole division only collected $30,262 – or just 3.1 percent of the money owed by offenders who were successfully discharged. Some examples: one person convicted of theft, paid $505 out of $198,781; another convicted of manslaughter while driving drunk paid $378 out of $49,047; a thief paid only $85 out of a court order to repay $18,250. Some offenders, who owed amounts from $576 to $6,600, never paid a nickel.