Iowa Working to Enhance Victim Restitution Processes

October 5, 2021

In Iowa—and across the country—victims of crime are legally entitled to request restitution for monetary losses related to their victimization in a criminal case, but they often face challenges throughout the restitution process. Victims are not always aware of their right to request restitution or may be confused about how to begin the request process. Further, in cases where restitution is successfully requested and granted by a court, victims are reliant on the person who owes restitution to make consistent payments. To address these challenges in Iowa, the Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) in the state Attorney General’s Office has partnered with the CSG Justice Center to improve the state’s ability to meet the financial needs of crime victims.

The project, which builds directly on past restitution work conducted by the state, is intended to increase collaboration among stakeholders involved in restitution processes. Between now and August 2022, CSG Justice Center staff will engage with restitution stakeholders and victims of crime in Iowa to do the following:

 

  • Assess barriers to collaboration between restitution stakeholders that limit or hinder streamlined restitution processes.
  • Utilize findings from this assessment to develop a restitution toolkit that will provide resources and best practices for ordering, collecting, and disbursing restitution.
  • Identify crime-related costs and financial needs of crime victims following their victimization and determine changes the state may make to better meet these financial needs.
  • Analyze policies related to the collection of restitution payments from people on community supervision and make recommendations to improve these policies.
  • Develop a summary report and recommendations to be shared with CVAD and other statewide project partners.

In 2018, CVAD contracted with the Iowa Department of Human Rights Office of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning and the CSG Justice Center to evaluate restitution disbursement and collection trends in the state and conduct qualitative analysis to support quantitative findings. The goals of this assessment were threefold: (1) gain a better understanding of attitudes among system stakeholders regarding restitution; (2) identify existing barriers and challenges related to ordering and collecting restitution; and (3) understand processes and practices used across the state by restitution stakeholders. The CSG Justice Center’s final report was completed in early 2019 and contained various findings and recommendations for the state to improve restitution processes in Iowa.

For more information, contact Celine Villongco Miles at [email protected].

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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Celine Villongco Miles
Senior Policy Analyst, State Initiatives
Celine Villongco Miles works with the policy and communications teams, as well as regional offices, affiliates, and members, to promote strategies and best practices for victim-centered policies. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Celine was the statewide human trafficking
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coordinator for the Iowa Department of Justice, where she collaborated with statewide agencies and stakeholders to raise awareness and develop trauma-informed policies for victims of crime. She has also worked with Polaris in Washington, DC, and the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). Celine received a BS from Cornell University and an MA in public policy from Duke University.
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