Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $400,000)
Pima County Victim Restitution Assistance Program is a juvenile justice system enhancement designed to mitigate the financial burdens of indigent clients, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The service area is Pima County, Arizona. The Public Defender’s Juvenile Office (PDJV) within Pima County Public Defense Services (PDS), along with their sub-recipient, Tucson Second Chance Community Bail Fund (TSCCBF), will develop a pilot Victim Restitution Assistance Project for clients who have been unable to pay Court-ordered victim restitution.
The inability to pay restitution is a significant barrier that inhibits defendants’ ability to resolve personal and environmental factors that increase the risk of recidivism. There is a lack of research on the impact of unpaid victim restitution (or restitution assistance) on juvenile violent crime or recidivism. Anecdotally, PDJV attorneys point to the years-long burden of unpaid restitution as a factor in recidivism. Unpaid restitution can lead to extended periods of Court involvement, the inability to destroy juvenile court records, and other collateral consequences. These consequences impair the youths’ ability to obtain employment and sometimes housing, thereby fueling ongoing risk of delinquency and/or criminal involvement. This program will also assist in making victims whole and reducing the community impact of delinquent behavior.
The proposed Victim Restitution Assistance Program will consist of five components. They are 1) identification of qualified applicants in need of victim restitution assistance by their defense representation team and TSCCBF based on an eligibility rubric; 2) referral of applicants to TSCCBF, the payer; 3) evaluation by the TSCCBF; 4) payment of court-ordered victim restitution by the TSCCBF; and 5) data collection, evaluation and reporting. The desired outcomes are an increase in the number of individuals who are eligible for records destruction; increase in the number of victims receiving full payment of restitution, full resolution, restoration and reduced recidivism among recipients of assistance. The Juvenile Justice Systems Enhancement program will be reevaluated each year to determine program effectiveness for all participants and members of BIPOC communities. The evaluation will focus specifically on the number of cases that are resolved, the speed with which cases are resolved, the recidivism rate of the juveniles who are assisted by the program, and relevant socioeconomic factors. The Grant Manager and staff will work with the Technical Assistance Provider and Pima County Grant Research and Analysis unit to ascertain whether outcomes show the need for program adjustments throughout the grant period.