Victim restitution programs have become quite popular in today's society. In many ways it helps those who have fallen victim to crimes, repair and or replace objects/damages which are subsequently taken/caused during the criminal activity. There are many crimes that occur on Campus at FIU and a victim restitution program would be a great benefit to those who are unfortunate victims of these crimes. Establishing and implementing a victim restitution program will help victims rebuild and restructure their lives and it will also serve as a hopeful deterrent to those who are planning to commit crimes. In any program, design and implementation are crucial to the programs success and longevity. In this paper we will discuss the potential design of the program and address key issues in order to have an efficient and effective program in place.
Florida international University is implementing a victim restitution program to provide remuneration to the students and faculty members (victims) who suffer financial losses as a result of the crimes committed. This is the primary purpose of the program, to indemnify the victims. The program is set to cover losses such as but not limited to: out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatments (this can include mental attributes such as counseling), property loss or damage, funeral costs, transportation, lost wages and much more. This program is intended to hold offenders accountable for their crimes and also to ensure that the students and faculty members of FIU are restored to their previous standing in order to avoid complications of attending school and or work. In order for this program to become effective it must be structured properly.
This program will consist of a department within the FIU police department. In this department their sole dedication will be that of victim restitution. Victims should report all criminal activity to the Police Department, once this is reported the FIU police will work with the Court system and with the Victim Restitution department. The VRD drafts the documents in regards to the suspected loss including the estimated amount, type of loss and the suspects name and affiliation with the University and forwards it to the University Police Department which corresponds with the courts. The University Police Department evaluates the case and forwards the information to the courts. The University Police Department informs the VRD about the status of the case who in turn correspond with the victim. The VRD will coordinate settlements on behalf of the University and also act as a restitution collection agent. The restitution process will also subject the offender to other disciplinary actions if other FIU policies have been breached. Requests for restitution will be made in writing and will provide all the information in regards to the crime and damaged property or other losses. Applicants will be asked to provide bills, receipts, estimates for stolen or damaged property and or any other information to help in the case.
If a Settlement Is not reached via the collection process and the offender is a student a hold will be enacted upon their student account and will not be removed until the amount owed has been settled. A faculty member or employee may be dismissed or suspended until the debt is settled.
Restitution will be return in a monetary form when crimes damages are tangible and the offender is eligible to pay. Service restitution will be sought when the offender is ineligible to pay and for his efforts the services rendered will benefit the University. Students will be granted restitution for crimes that directly effective them, for example: if their car is broken into or if their laptop is stolen, the criminal should have to repay the victim for the monetary value of the damages or property stolen. In the event that a crime is committed where the school is involved such as vandalism or other forms of property destruction the university should be directly reimbursed.
This program is intended to reinstate the victim to their original state before the crime occurred. With this being said we must first apprehend the criminal and he must be convicted in court. FIU's VRD is very similar to state department but we will differentiate in the sense of using victim compensation. Victim compensation is the University compensating a victim for their damages in order to offset the complications caused by the crime. This program allows the University to assess the needs of the victims and compensate them in order for them to return to school/work. This is an important aspect but as with any Restitution program it does have limitations. Restitution and or compensation will not be provided in the following: expenses which are not directly in relation to the crime, expenses existing from previous crimes, expenses from previous crimes and damages that do not occur on campus. In creating this program it is essential that we not lose sight of its purpose. Holding a criminal responsible monetarily for damages he/she did not commit only further jeopardizes the system. This can lead to further criminalization and a wrong message to the victims. This program is intended to hold guilty offenders liable for their crimes, it will be established to help victims and also to show the students and staff at FIU that the university does care and their safety and property is of concern as they are students attending the university.
Introducing this Victim restitution program will reap FIU many benefits. It demonstrates the University's dedication to its students and faculty members and also its dedication to stop crime. There is a lot of unreported crime and this program may serve as a building block for victims to come forward for help in the event of a resolution. Overall FIU has the staff, the facility and the need for this program. It will be an excellent addition and hopefully a key to opening new insight to students and faculty and making FIU a safer and more reliable institution.
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