news release announcing a computer system with an e-pay function, enabling criminal Defendants to pay their fines on the Internet. It brags that statewide, Pa. courts collected a "record" $480 million in fines, costs and restitution during 2010. But at the same time, Chief Justice Ronald Castille huffs, "Courts are not collection agencies."
Excuse me, but isn't collection of fines, fees and restitution part of criminal justice? Did I miss something?
Of the sum collected, only eight per cent - $37 million - is for actual restitution.
Yesterday, I told you that Criminal Division Clerk Leigh Ann Fisher has no idea how much money is even owed in Northampton County, although she believes it's tens of millions. A recently-hired accountant is trying to determine a figure.
I'm amazed that Controller Steve Barron would snub a crime victim after promising to help her, even though it has nothing to do with his job. I'm amazed even more that he's never audited the "efficiency and effectiveness" of criminal collections. That is his job.
Pennsylvania does have a crime victim compensation program, but except for stolen cash, it has no application to victims or property crime. So victims of break-ins like Susan Eagle really depend on the County to collect money they've lost through no fault of their own from the persons who are responsible. That's called justice, and it's not working.
On a state level, the Commission on Crime and Delinquency was pitching a new unit a few years ago that would consist of two or three new people who would have help counties go after big offenders and assist locals with identifying resourses to attach wages, etc., based on a successful federal model.
It went nowhere.