April 3, 2008
Washington, D.C. -- The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing today on criminal restitution and Congressman Steve Chabot’s (R-Cincinnati) Criminal Restitution Improvements Act of 2007 (H.R. 845). Chabot’s legislation would amend the federal criminal code to bring greater fairness to the criminal justice system for victims of crime.
“Our justice system continues to neglect the rights of crime victims and their families,” said Chabot, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. “Many innocent people are struggling to put their lives back together after being victimized by a criminal act. While these victims are entitled to ‘full and timely restitution,’ they rarely receive any redress from the offender.”
According to the Department of Justice, crime costs victims and their families more than $105 billion in lost earnings, medical expenses and public victim assistance. Each year, 87 percent of criminal debt, including restitution and fines, goes uncollected. The amount of outstanding criminal debt is only expected to increase - ballooning from $269 million to almost $13 billion in the coming years. In Ohio, more than $1.2 billion in criminal debt remained uncollected at the end of the Fiscal Year for 2007.
Chabot’s legislation would make restitution mandatory in all federal crimes where there is an identifiable victim who has suffered a pecuniary loss; would revise debt collection procedures relating to criminal restitution and authorize prejudgment remedies in criminal restitution proceedings.
Chabot has been a leading advocate in Congress for crime victims and their families. He was the author and principle sponsor of the Crime Victims Rights Act that for the first time provided enforceable procedural rights for crime victims in federal court. Congressman Chabot has also worked to pass legislation that would help identify victims of crime by authorizing grants to states for the DNA testing of all unidentified human remains.
Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. recently awarded Congressman Chabot with the “Empty Shoe Award” for his longstanding work in the House of Representatives on behalf of victims of crime and his efforts to help pass a House Resolution declaring September 25th as a National Day of Remembrance of Murder Victims.