Stephens Bill Requiring Inmates to Pay Restitution Passes House
HARRISBURG -- Legislation introduced by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to force inmates to pay restitution to their victims has passed the House with strong bipartisan support.

“While inmates are spending millions of dollars at the prison commissary, too many victims remain unpaid,” Stephens said.

From 2010 through November 2012, Pennsylvania ordered defendants to pay more than $434 million in restitution. However, victims ended up with only about $50 million, a collection rate of 11.52 percent statewide.

Stephens’ legislation, House Bill 1089, would require mandatory deductions from an inmate’s wages and deposits made to inmates’ personal accounts for the fulfillment of restitution, costs, fees and other court-ordered obligations. Current law authorizes, but does not require, such deductions.

“Very simply, if someone steals your TV, they should not be able to buy themselves a TV in prison before paying you for the TV they stole. This bill puts victims of crime ahead of the criminals,” Stephens said.

Stephens’ bill would require 25 percent of inmates’ wages and 50 percent of the money deposited into their accounts from outside sources to be dedicated to making their victims’ whole.

In October 2011, the Office of Victim Advocate convened the Restitution in Pennsylvania Task Force, which included individuals from agencies and organizations representing all stages and aspects of victim restitution work. The task force undertook a comprehensive examination of the restitution system in Pennsylvania and identified opportunities to improve this system of restorative justice at both the state and county levels.

Stephens’ legislation corrects a problem identified by the task force. House Bill 1089 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
Share |