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Archive for Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Branson wants victims repaid

D.A. working to start compensation board for property crimes

December 30, 2008

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Douglas County’s top prosecutor is looking to take from the illicit haves and give back to their victimized have-nots.

Charles Branson, the county’s district attorney, is working on plans to establish a Property Crimes Compensation Board, an operation that would be financed by people who pay to receive diversions instead of jail time.

The targeted money — some of the nearly $100,000 in diversion payments and related fees made each year — would be used to reimburse victims of property crimes, such as vandalism and theft, Branson said. If someone had a car window smashed and CDs or tools stolen, the fund might be able to help the victim pay all or part of an insurance deductible to get the car back in comfortable working order.

“Our system does a fair job of trying to hold people accountable, but it does a very poor job of trying to restore a crime victim back to where they were at,” Branson said. “So this just is something that we can try to put together that allows us to help try to make crime victims whole.”

The compensation board wouldn’t be the first new service established in Branson’s office.

In 2006, Branson launched a Consumer Protection Division, based on a similar effort already under way in Johnson County. The division helps advocate for and protect people from fraudulent activities.

While the concept behind a Property Crime Compensation Board is rooted in state law, Branson acknowledged that few communities had agreed to create one. Such a program exists in Saline County, he said, but others have been slow to follow.

“There’s very few places that really want to take on another task,” he said.

State law mandates that such a program include:

• An appointed, three-member board to oversee the effort’s operations.

• Payment caps of either $500 (for crimes that result in a felony charge) or $250 (for crimes that result in a misdemeanor or traffic charge).

Branson isn’t certain when he’ll take the concept to Douglas County commissioners for consideration, and he acknowledges that it might be difficult to start a program — especially one that requires financial resources — during tight budget times.

“So far, everybody I’ve talked to about it has been pretty excited about doing it,” he said.

Victims of crimes against people already have a process for receiving some financial assistance, through the Crime Victims Compensation Board overseen by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. But responsibility for dealing with financial loss regarding property crimes — theft, vandalism, criminal damage and the like — remains a local issue, one Branson sees as needing a governmental boost.

“Generally, we’re going to ask for restitution from any defendant that’s committed a crime that’s caused somebody financial issues,” Branson said. “A lot of times, though, those things can’t be paid — because they’re in jail, they have no job, that type of stuff. They have no financial wherewithal to be able to make any type of restitution payments.

“So in those types of cases, then, our fund would be able to kick in and try to help cover some of those things.”

Comments

cheeseburger 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm not opposed to victim compensation, but I wish Branson would spend his time and efforts getting convictions against criminals. Seems like he's pretty soft.

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macon47 5 years, 3 months ago

when murderers only get 3 or 4 years whentried in douglas county it is hard to believethis will amount to anything other thanjust more fluff

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lawthing 5 years, 3 months ago

This fund will mostly be available to the victims who find their stolen property in the Pawn Shops! Now they can have the money provided to them by the Police to pay the Pawn Shop to get their stuff back! Impressive plan indead!

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Christine Anderson 5 years, 3 months ago

Hah! How can a DA who can't be depended on to be tough on criminals be counted on to compensate victims??

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KSChick1 5 years, 3 months ago

Or you can lower your deductible to a more-manageable $250-500 which would also help. There is a huge myth out there that it raises your premiums some insane amount and it doesn't really in most cases.I pay a few extra dollars on my car and house insurance premiums and banked what I saved to pay a $250 deductible when I need to.

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rubyslipper 5 years, 3 months ago

I like the idea, and I do agree with "cowboy" and they could have both types of funds setup. My car was parked and hit this year and they were never able to figure out who did it. In the end my insurance covered it but I had to pay the $1000 deductible. Not the best deal when you don't have that written into your budget and it's not your fault.

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redmoonrising 5 years, 3 months ago

So true, leadstone, here we go again. And I can appreciate what flamingdragon had to say. Our business was broken into twice and it cost us more than the guys who did it. Do we lock up some guy who busts out my windshield for the fun of it? Maybe if it hit him in the wallet, he would think twice before doing it again. Then again, maybe not, but at least I have a new windshield paid for, or a new door for my business or items stoen from me.. No matter what the guy (DA) does, and no, I have no feelings one way or the other about him, he isn't going to make some of you happy. Sure we pay his salary, and the judges', but we also pay to keep these guys in jail. Since I can't go bash in some guy's windshield, why not let the guy who bashed in mine pay for it? And we don't have to provide him with free housing, food, clothing and medical care. The article clearly states that the funds for this program would come from diversion payments and fees.

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Dani Davey 5 years, 3 months ago

While I think the idea is fine, I'm curious how it'll effect the fact that most diversions for property crimes require restitution. So if the victim gets paid out of this fund, does the restitution money when paid then go into this fund, or are we paying victims twice? And how is appraisal of damages going to be done?Plus, I'm curious to know what this fund will take away from - certainly they are using that $100,000/yr for something now.

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leadstone 5 years, 3 months ago

Looking forward to see how this little plan pans out. It should make for some pretty interesting blog fodder in the coming year.

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flamingdragon 5 years, 3 months ago

it is a great plan! it should have been in place years ago!Currently, a victim of vandalism has pretty much no recourse for recovery...Several times, hood-rats have tried to break in my business by kicking in the door. It really blows, because I have to foot the bill for a new door immediately. If the clowns actually get caught, they will eventually be saddled with a 'restitution' settlement...meaning they pay $10 per month for 80 months. They usually pay the first payment, and then they bail. never to be found again. real help. $500 would be awesome. That would really go along way. Thanks.If you have other issues with branson, thats fine-but this is a good idea for everyone.

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cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

This is a good and noble idea. KCMO has a fund. i'm not sure I'm real supportive of property crime reimbursement though. My brother was murdered many years ago in KCMO and the victim's fund helped out with some burial expenses. It was very helpful in a real difficult time.

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ou812mr2 5 years, 3 months ago

WHAT A GREAT IDEA. MAYBE YOU COULD USE SOME OF THE FUNDS TO ACTUALLY PROSECUTE BAD CHECK WRITTERS, HIRE AND ATTORNEY WITH A SPINE OR BUY A PHONE ANSWERING SYSTEM THAT WOULD ALLOW YOU TO GET ALL THE MESSAGES I'VE LEFT. COOLHAWK HAD A GREAT IDEA SINCE WE PAY YOUR SALARY (AS TAXPAYERS) YOU COULD WORK FOR US (CITIZENS OF LAWRENCE). IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOU JUST ASK THE GUYS WHO PUT THEIR LIFE ON THE LINE EVERYDAY (L.P.D.). I'M SURE ITS FRUSTRATING FOR THEM TO BRING IN THE SCUM OF LAWRENCE TO YOUR DOORSTEP ONLY TO HAVE YOU PAT THEM ON THE BACK AND SEND THEM OUT THE DOOR AS A FREE MAN. GOOD JOB ! HOPE YOU DIDNT STAY UP ALL NIGHT THINKING OF THIS BRIGHT IDEA.

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coolhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

The is such a freakin genius. Hey dude, why don't you work on the the incredible amount of inmates in the jail that are incarcerated and then set free in society with no training or ability to acclimate themselves into society? What a sham. Prevent future offenses by educating inmates and people going back into societyl. It is a fact - people with no direction recycle themselves back into the judicial process. Why? Because once set free, there is no support. So you go from 20 hours not being able to leave your 8x10 jail cell back into society with no buffer and transition program to set them up for success. Instead, you set them up for failure. So much for caring Christian ways. How hypocritical. Come up with a plan. We, as taxpayers, pay your salary. Be a genius and do something.

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