Restitution Payments (2021-MS-2)

Issued Date
December 14, 2021

[read complete report - pdf]

We also released 13 letter reports to the following County Probation Departments: Chenango [pdf], Erie [pdf], Franklin [pdf], Jefferson [pdf], Orange [pdf], Putnam [pdf], Rensselaer [pdf], Saratoga [pdf], Seneca [pdf], Suffolk [pdf], Ulster [pdf], Wayne [pdf], and Wyoming [pdf].

Audit Objective

Determine whether County Probation Department (Department) officials enforced restitution orders, notified the court when a probationer violated the court order and disbursed victim restitution payments promptly and appropriately.

Key Findings

Department officials must do more to ensure victims receive court ordered restitution. Our review of 13 County Probation Departments found:

  • More than half, or 160 of the probationers tested, were behind on their restitution payments by a total of $283,620. The courts were often not notified because Department policies did not always require court notification or officials failed to follow their policy and notify the court that the probationer failed to pay restitution as ordered.
  • Restitution payments were not always disbursed to victims promptly or appropriately and reasonable efforts were not made to locate victims to disburse as much as $1.6 million the Departments had on deposit, with some undisbursed restitution being held for 27 years.
  • Nearly half of the Departments tested did not maintain complete lists of unsatisfied restitution orders and more than 75 percent of the Departments cannot identify the source of all the money on deposit in their restitution accounts.

As a result, some victims will never receive the payments to which they are entitled.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish adequate written restitution policies and procedures for enforcing and monitoring restitution obligations.
  • Make payments from the undisbursed restitution account to the crime victims whose restitution orders have remained unsatisfied for the longest period in a timely manner.