Most of Hawaii’s criminal offenders have not paid the restitution they owe their victims, a problem that won’t improve unless key players in the criminal justice system place a greater emphasis on collecting the money, victims advocates tell the Honolulu Star Advertiser. The advocates that too many in the system have a “can’t do” attitude based on the notion that one “can’t squeeze blood from a stone.” “You can’t tell me there’s any offender who can’t pay $2,000 over five years (of probation),” said Dennis Dunn, director of Victim Witness Kokua Services of the city prosecutor’s office.
Pamela Ferguson-Brey, executive director of the Crime Victim Compensation Commission, said the system should be “more victim-driven.” “There’s not enough concern about the impact of the crime, the financial, physical and emotional impact on the victim, and how are we going to make sure they become whole again,” she said. Probation officials and others say the issue is more complicated. The way to increase the restitution rate without sidetracking offenders from rehabilitation is for employers to give them jobs, they contend. “It’s a little too simplistic to say the court should be functioning as a collection agency for the victim and collecting all this money,” said Deputy Public Defender Susan Arnett.